This round of spring football has been different for tight end Travis Vokolek. He’s not been able to fully take part in all team activities due to injury. His inability to be involved with contact drills isn’t phasing him or the coaching staff. That’s in large part because this is his sixth year of college football. Vokolek isn’t missing a lot by not being out there since he’s a seasoned veteran.
Vokolek is embracing his role as tight end coach Sean Beckton’s sidekick on the practice field. He’s still involved taking mental reps, has a play sheet in hand and is helping coach up his younger teammates.
The injury situation at tight end has forced a handful of players into more action this spring than anticipated. We heard from several of those young tight ends last week that have been thrust into new roles. The group likes to call themselves the “tight squad” according to second-year player James Carnie. Vokolek has been impressed with the work ethic of those players that he’s helping this spring.
“All of them been working hard with a couple tight ends down,” Vokolek said. “[Nate] Boerkircher, AJ [Rollins], Carnie, and Evan [Myersick]. They’ve had a really good spring and being there to help them it’s been awesome. I’ve really enjoyed it. If you were in the room with us, you’d realize those guys want to learn. They’re in the room all the time when I’m in there.”
It’s helped keep things fresh for Vokolek this spring by helping out the young guys. He’s growing into more of a leader on the field in the absence of departed tight end Austin Allen.
“I love it. I want to coach when I’m done playing, eventually,” Vokolek said. “So, this is kind of a nice little step for me to learn some things that happen off the field in the film room when we’re not necessarily up here. How the coaches work, how they put scripts together and then helping the younger guys run through plays, learn different schemes, and just making sure that we’re locked into the current play, forgetting about the past one and not looking too far ahead.”
This new role is coming naturally to the tight end. Vokolek has been around the game of football all his life. His earliest memories of being around football are from when he was a five-year-old. His father DJ Vokolek has been a coach for a long time. DJ joined Nebraska’s staff as an analyst this offseason.
“It’s been awesome him and I go back and forth,” Vokolek said. “I’ll be running around up in the stadium and I’ll see him. It was kind of weird at first’ walking by him like, what are you doing here?’ I really enjoy it. He’s been a great help for me.
The father and son duo try to keep the football talk in the facility. Vokolek said that when he’s back at his parents’ house they try to keep it to just family time.
The spring has been a unique one for Vokolek as he prepares for his final season of college football. He’s finding a lot of value in his role as one of the leaders of the offense for the 2022 season.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.