Nebraska hosts first-ever Youth Camp

The first-ever Husker Youth Camp kicked off today, some 260 8 to 13 year olds gathering in Lincoln from as far away as Wyoming. The inspiration behind the camp was easy for the staff at NU and once you see these young, impressionable prospective student athletes experience it for themselves, it becomes as easy for the fans to see as well.



The question would be posed for anything done that's never been done before, that, of course, being why do it at all.


For recruiting coordinator Tim Cassidy, who organizes all the football camps at the University of Nebraska and then subsequently, personally oversees their operation, this camp for kids wasn't an event riding the fence as to whether it would be done or not.


It was a no-brainer.

Youth Camp 2.jpg - 41628 Bytes
Recruiting Coordinator, Tim Cassidy organizes
all the camps at Nebraska. This first session
featured approximately 260 kids from as far a
wway as Wyoming.
"Coach Callahan wanted this and I know everyone has been real enthusiastic to have a camp like this," Cassidy said of the head coach and the assistants' mind-set towards the first annual youth camp. "It's a chance for all these kids just learning about sports, to get into a structured environment, where they can learn, have fun, compete and get an idea of what Nebraska is all about."


There is a certain sense of promotion here, as you would expect, some of these young athletes possible bluechip  prospects in the future. That's certainly not the overriding theme on the fields, however, Cassidy stating that this experience isn't about what the coaches can get out of it, rather what they can give to these kids for their respective futures.


"We want them to have fun and come out of here thinking positively about what they have seen and done," he said. "But, they will learn while they're here, because they are getting coached by our coaches, like coach Cosgrove, coach Wagner and a lot of great high school and small college coaches from around the area."


"And, the great thing is how you see someone like coach Cosgrove relate to players on this Husker team, that's how they relate to these kids. No different, nothing changes, these kids are getting the real deal."



It wasn't mere moments after Cassidy said that, I turned to look at the group with defensive line coach John Blake as he was running a line-drill, the athletes not able to get out of their three-point stance until the ball on the line moved.


If they moved before that?


Push ups – five of ‘em.


Welcome to camp son.


For the majority of the evening, the young players were given their baptism by fire to the efficiency that Cassidy has become noted for in his camps, but they've gotten a taste of what a practice with

Youth Camp 1.jpg - 44622 Bytes
Coaches from both high schools and colleges
around the area came to Lincoln to help tutor
the almost 300 participants.
Nebraska 's football head coach is like as well.


Five minutes with one coach, doing various drills, the horn blows, players run full speed to the next station to do it all over again. They repeat that until every coach, some 10 or so, has gotten a chance to work with each and every player.


"Most of these kids have never been in an environment like this," Cassidy said. "It's competitive, they learn a lot while they are here and everyone wants to do their best and the coaches want to do their best for them."


"We want them to leave feeling good about what they've done, but what they have seen here as well."


Much of that was laden with beams, cross-ties, metal works of all sorts, the construction around Ed Weir track making up almost all of the landscape. It was workmanlike as well on the field, the players going from individual drills to the "Nebraska Ball" competition.


Shirts versus skins, just like you may have done as a kid yourself with friends in the backyard. Only, these kids, most not even teenagers had legit coaches teaching them along the way.


It made for an environment that was obviously exciting, but as Cassidy said himself, the types of kids that come to these camps, especially at this age, they are particularly motivated. "These kids want to be here, want to do well and learn whatever they can," he said. "If you are a kid that likes to eat pizza, play video games and go to the movies, this probably isn't for you.


"It is for them, though, because you can see how each and every young man is excited just to be doing what they are doing."


For our clientele here at Big Red Report, for a brief second, they might inquire as to who looked good, what players stood out and who seems to have the right stuff, so that in four years, maybe it's their name we are touting as the next……..whoever.


Youth Camp 3.jpg - 51345 Bytes
The young and really young gathered
as Cassidy instructed the campers
about "Nebraskaball", the competition
where they would team up and see who
was the best.
As defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Kevin Cosgrove pointed out, even chuckling a bit, when you get them this young, there's only so much you can learn. "Hey, I'm a dad and if there's one thing I know, kids change," he said. "I've got a son, who not long ago is shorter than I am and now, he's a couple inches above me."


"What this is, is a fun experience for everyone. We want to teach them what we teach our own players, but we want to instill that excitement we have for this, because you have to have that passion if you want to succeed."


"Most of them have that passion already, though. That's why they are here. They want to experience an environment like this, but get better at what they do."


This session is just the beginning, as when this one ends, the kicking academy resumes the summer camp schedule, that a one-day event being held on the 11th. Following that are the two regular summer sessions, featuring some of the best prep-talent from around the country, including in-state players like Omaha Central's Derrick Russell, Mt. Michael 's Cole Bunner and Lincoln North Star's Tyler Bullocks.


Unlike the young ones at the session currently being ran, that trio will hit the grass fields outside of Memorial Stadium with the intent of proving that they have what it takes to be Huskers.

Last year, there were three "regular" sessions, but they were merged, an estimated total of 300 kids competing at each of the three-day events.


Following those two sessions will be the final camp of June, the much anticipated "Elite Quarterback Camp", featuring a variety of potential stars, including the very familiar name of Josh Freeman, the

Josh Freeman will be one of the
headliners in what should be a
talent-laden group of QBs.
Missouri native making it up for his second consecutive camps, attending last year's with future Husker Harrison Beck.


 Will Josh follow Harrison Beck and become the next future Husker or is there yet another potential signal-caller in this group, estimated to be around 100 participants?


Time will tell, but for the youth that competed yesterday, time has little meaning, as life itself is a moment-by-moment experience. For the coaches at the University of Nebraska , this camp specifically was a way that they knew they could connect to many kids around the region, but for teaching rather than scouting.


This camp is about direction, instruction and the reinforcement of this passion that everyone has for the game.


Oh, and a little fun thrown in as well.


"Coach Callahan was here before all this started and he must have signed like 500 autographs," Cassidy said. "We want these kids to have fun, while they are learning some of the basics of this game. We also want them to get a feel for our excitement, because it's the passion we all have for Nebraska."


For more information on the camps and how you might be able to still attend some of the sessions this month, click HERE and check out or youth camp Photo Gallery for more pictures of the day that was.

Big Red Report Top Stories