Nebraska will kickoff Fall Camp practice No. 4 today. We give some early impressions and more as we start your Monday off with the Weekly Rundown column.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
Depth of the 2021 Husker roster: When you look at the 116 man Fall Camp roster for Nebraska, this looks like a year-four team. NU has the depth to compete. The lines have the size and length on both sides of the ball now.
Obviously, there are still some questions to answer, but the early make-up of this roster is without a doubt the deepest it’s been in Scott Frost’s four seasons. As we know, it’s also the most difficult schedule on paper Frost has faced.
A more explosive Adrian Martinez: Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez has experienced the highs and the lows the last three years. In the end, it should all make him stronger.
When you see Martinez now, he’s clearly put more time in getting his body right. He’s going to be a much more explosive version in 2021. He also appears mentally ready for this year. Compare that to 2020, where he was in a battle with Luke McCaffrey, and 2019 where he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. This year I sense a much more carefree version of Martinez that is ready for the challenge ahead.
Fred Hoiberg: Dalano Banton getting drafted 46th by the Toronto Raptors is a pretty good sign of what’s to come for Nebraska basketball. Fred Hoiberg is getting the right type of talent to Lincoln. He’s also developing it.
His 2021-22 squad is as deep as any Iowa State team Hoiberg had, a program source told me. You get the feeling this is going to be a pretty fun season to watch.
These were my surprises of the week:
The size of Jacquez Yant: The official Huskers.com roster lists freshman running back Jacquez Yant at 245 pounds. After seeing him on Thursday, it’s hard to think he’s under 250. Yant is the biggest back I can remember at NU in quite some time. Former Husker Dan Alexander was 6-foot, 245 pounds back in 2000. Andy Janovich played fullback at 230 pounds in 2015.
Jailen Weaver: COVID-19 hurt Nebraska recruiting a lot this year, but it may have helped them land Jailen Weaver out of California.
You have to think, if more people could have seen the 6-foot-8, 320 pound Weaver a year ago, it would have been hard to pluck him off the West Coast. The Huskers appear to really have gotten a good one here.
Timing of Erickson’s commit: Nebraska got a commitment from offensive lineman Valen Erickson on Friday, while Jake Maikkula picked Stanford on Saturday. Are these a coincidence? It sure felt that way.
Regardless, Erickson has been a priority from Day 1. They brought him in for the opening weekend and he visited NU three times, including this past weekend to lock up his commitment. Now my focus is on John Pastore, who remains on the offensive lineman board. Will NU push for his commit, or hold the spot longer?
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Big Ten realignment: Oklahoma and Texas officially joined the SEC. The Big 12 is now going after ESPN for trying to break everything up.
This all feels like an ESPN vs. FOX war. ESPN took FOX’s top two pieces from the Big 12 in OU and Texas. That leaves FOX with the Big Ten, PAC-12 and remaining Big 12 schools.
The SEC, ACC and now Oklahoma and Texas are all locked into ESPN. We’ve heard nothing from the Big Ten front, but conventional wisdom says they are going to have to do something with the PAC-12 to combine forces and secure FOX’s position.
The other interesting thing this week is the talk of the 12-team playoff has slowed. It will happen eventually, but probably not right away now.
The other leagues don’t like how ESPN would then go from three pieces of playoff inventory to 11. That is major money.
There’s a thought that those 11 pieces of playoff inventory should be put up for bid no different than what the NFL does airing playoff games on CBS, NBC, FOX, etc.
By letting ESPN air all 11 playoff games, I don’t think there are very many people comfortable with that arrangement long-term, especially if you are tied to FOX.
Running back race: Where will the running back race go this month? Will Markese Stepp make himself a factor in camp? This position group is a complete unknown right now.
Right guard: What will Greg Austin do at right guard between Matt Sichterman and Brant Banks? Could they play near equal reps?
It’s clear they are high on both players. Banks also could play tackle if an injury happened to either Bryce Benhart or Turner Corcoran.
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
The health of the team Week 1: Whenever you get going in Fall Camp, I’m always interested in the health of the team. How many of the small camp bumps and bruises will hold guys out?
Hopefully, it’s not like the spring, where there were days that 20 to 30+ guys were held out for different reasons.
Wednesday’s Fall Camp practice: The media will get their first look at the Huskers in practice on Wednesday morning. We’ll also be back on Aug. 11. It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from these 30-minute practice windows, but they are the only live looks we’ll get at the team until Aug. 28.
No. 2 quarterback talk: How will things shake out over the first 10 practices between Heinrich Haarberg and Logan Smothers for the No. 2 quarterback job? Better yet, will they name a true No. 2, or just rep them equally?
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET’s Big Red Wrap-Tuesday’s at 7 pm.