You’ll find no shortage of confidence with Trey Palmer, whether that’s on the field running routes against defensive backs or off it in front of cameras and recorders.
For the first time in his young Nebraska career on Monday, Palmer, Nebraska’s transfer receiver from LSU, met with the media inside Memorial Stadium. He was wearing a black undershirt with “NFT DROP 4/9/22” on the front, signaling to everyone that this Saturday’s spring game is going to be a big day for the Kentwood, Louisiana, native for multiple reasons.
Non-fungible tokens aside, Palmer wants to show the Husker faithful what he’s capable of in the scrimmage. On Monday, he sounded confident that would happen.
“I just do what I do,” Palmer said when asked what he wants to show on Saturday. “It ain’t no show—it’s a clinic.”
Palmer was a four-star recruit and the No. 6 overall prospect in the recruiting hotbed of Louisiana for the 2019 class. In three seasons at LSU, Palmer caught 41 passes for 458 yards and three touchdowns. He also contributed on special teams as a returner. As a true freshman in 2019, he brought back a punt for a 54-yard score against Northwestern State. In 2020, he returned a kickoff for a 93-yard touchdown against South Carolina.
When Palmer first got to Lincoln, he started running routes and catching passes from the quarterbacks almost immediately. Doing that gave an opportunity for the quarterbacks to learn the way Palmer and the rest of the receivers run their routes, and it helped the receivers understand the differences in how each quarterback throws the ball.
Will those quarterback-receiver sessions pay off?
“It’s paying off a lot. Ya’ll gonna see April 9,” Palmer said with a smile.
Based off what’s been said from coaches and teammates, the transition from Baton Rouge to Lincoln is going well for Palmer. Mickey Joseph, the Huskers’ first-year receivers coach, plays a big role in that. The former Nebraska quarterback was a major player in convincing Palmer to leave the SEC and join Big Red. After all, it was Joseph who recruited and coached Palmer while both were in the Bayou.
The two’s relationship is so strong, in fact, that Palmer sees Joseph as father figure.
“He looks at me like his own, so to have somebody in my life like that on the field and off the field, it’s very good,” Palmer said.
Like other receivers have said this spring, Joseph coaches his room hard. Palmer knows all about that. In that game where Palmer returned a kickoff for a touchdown against South Carolina, Joseph benched Palmer shortly before.
“I can’t tell you what really went down, but I was mad in my little world,” Palmer said of that October night. “So I was like, ‘You know what, I’m not going to take it out on nobody, I’m just going to go out here and return the kick,’ and that’s what I did.”
It wasn’t until his senior year at Kentwood High School that Palmer started returning kicks. It came naturally to him. It takes a certain kind of mindset for a player to want to return kicks. Some of the biggest collisions on a football field are on kick and punt return, so return duty isn’t for the faint of heart.
But for Palmer, he welcomes those moments.
“I’m a calm person, so I’m calm and collected through the pressure and everything,” he said. “I’m built for pressure, so I like stuff like that.”
Palmer has personality. He likes to have fun on the field. He’ll talk a bit of trash and dance some.
“What’s football without fun,” Palmer said.
While his head coach, Scott Frost, never wants him to cross any lines, having that confidence on the team is a good thing.
“Trey has fit great, and he fits in great because of his personality,” Frost said on Monday. “He brings energy every single day. Has made a lot of plays out there, he can really run. So I think with some more time working with him he has a chance to do some special things, and I’m looking forward to seeing that development.”
The fifth-year head coach witnessed first-hand what kind of confidence and bravado Palmer plays with.
“He’s just got the kind of personality you want to be around,” Frost said. “He came into the huddle one time earlier in spring during a two-minute drill and said, ‘Just throw me a deep ball and this thing will be over,’ and two plays later we threw him a deep ball and it was over. You like to see that kind of confidence and energy coming into the huddle and on the field every day.”
Said Palmer of that moment in the huddle: “You have to be a dog in this sport. So I’m just that dog—it’s in me, it’s not on me.”
As a transfer with his background and pedigree, Palmer wants to be known as one of the leaders of the wideout room. That can be hard to do for someone, especially after moving to a foreign place where they don’t know anyone but their position coach.
But at the end of the day, Palmer is a veteran of college football who’s played in what’s considered the best conference in the country and against the best defenses, like Alabama and Texas A&M. If he thinks something will help, he’ll say it.
But there’s give and take there, too.
“We learn from each other,” Palmer said of the receivers room. “I might pick up something from them one day, they might pick up something from me one day. You just learn it, like a brotherhood. Like a real brotherhood.”