Fall practice begins, Callahan ready to start over

The first day of practice for any team is a typically exciting time for both coaches and players. Everyone finally gets out there on the field, together, most returning, but some new ones coming in. For coach Callahan and his group, this was a time to pick up where you left off, but start all over again.

Following the first practice of fall, head coach Bill Callahan addressed the media, talking about what he wanted to accomplish this year and, of course, about the large number of newcomers Nebraska had coming in.


Amongst those were to be running back Leon Jackson, offensive linemen and cousins, Rodney and Jordan Picou, along with junior college transfer wide receiver, Tyrell Spain and tight end, now rush end Justin Tomerlin.


As of right now, those five haven't been officially cleared to play.


"They are still looking to be cleared by the NCAA in terms of their academics and we are waiting word on that," Callahan said.


Justin Tomerlin was the one of the five that was in attendance for today's first practice.


Along with players not yet in Lincoln, there were some new names that have been recently added, some walk-on and one a scholarship athlete:


The walk-ons:


69        Adam Gibson -      OL  6-4  358  Jr.  Indianapolis, Ind.  (Rock Valley (Ill.) JC) 

55        Nathan McBride -  LS  6-1  205  Fr.  Scottsdale, Ariz.  (Chaparral) 

89        Hunter Teafatiller  TE  6-3  202  Fr.  Kinsbury, Calif.  (San Joaquin Memorial) 


The Scholarship player:


     70    Matt Slauson           OL  6-5  340  Fr.  Colorado Springs, Colo.  (Air Force Prep) 


The additions of those players takes the total number of players on the roster to 100, with the five allowable spots remaining going to those that are still in academic limbo.


Of those that were there, though, it was business as usual and while there was a good deal of experience to be had from last year's practice, as it happens every year when new faces come in, the coaches start the whole process over once again.


"Every year you start over," Callahan said. "Every year is a new year and interestingly enough, we all start at the bottom and we're all trying to put one foot in front of the other right now."


"Our older and experienced players have a little bit more of an advantage, because they've heard these plays and have heard these techniques now for about the fifth, sixth time, so they are pretty confident in what they are doing on the field."


The Huskers hit the field today, sporting only helmets, running individual drills and doing a lot of stuff meant simply to acclimate them to the structure of practice and what to do and when. But, as Callahan said, there was a lot of fraternization going on. Not the disruptive kind, mind you, rather the opposite as Callahan was pleased to hear lots of banter about the reason they were all there.


"You hear a lot of communication," Callahan said. "You hear players talking the game. When you have players that are communicating and feel loose and confident in the way they are making the calls, that gives you confidence as a coach and obviously that spreads throughout the team."


From Spring to Fall, basically the only thing that has changed is the addition of a few more names. In fact, Callahan said of the Fall practice, that it would be almost a carbon copy of what was done at the beginning of the year, especially regarding the theme of physicality. "There's a definite carry-over which we are trying to work into this phase of football that we are at right now," Callahan said. "We're really zeroed in on being a physical football team, that's a part of our mantra this fall training camp."


Something else that isn't necessarily the mantra that carries over, but certainly a theme is the battle at the quarterback position.


While going into spring there appeared to be a major battling ensuing, it was ultimately anti-climactic, junior college transfer Zac Taylor taking the reins at the top and never letting go.


Callahan didn't waver, however, in his message about the competition at the position, again, everyone going back to square one as they hit the home stretch to the season-opener.


"It's wide open," Callahan said of the quarterback race. "The roster is wide open, the depth chart is wide open and each player has to earn their spot. Through competition and repetition, guys are going to have to earn that title as a starter at Nebraska."


"In terms of the quarterback position, I feel real good that we have great competition. I enjoyed what I saw on the practice field today."


"Zac came out, knew the plays, got them out, got the team in and out in the huddle (and) we weren't stagnant at all in terms of our communication. The ability to get out and focus and execute, I felt very confident in that facet."


"I thought Harrison, Beau Davis, Joey Ganz and Jordan, they all did a nice job today, there will be an ongoing competition."


The competition doesn't stop there, almost all positions on the field now seemingly wide open with the addition of at least 20 new bodies. From Marlon Lucky trying to get time at running back to Chris Brooks vying for opportunities at wideout, physicality may be the mantra, but the battle within the battle should be the theme.


Nebraska resume practice today, donning helmets only again, but will reach full pads by this coming Monday.




TE, Matt Herian did participate some in practice today, but Callahan ruled him as questionable and it would appear that Herian's chances of playing this season are progressively diminishing.


RB, Brandon Jackson and TE, David Harvey wore green jerseys today, signifying limited contact. Jackson injured his shoulder during the spring, ultimately having surgery and Harvey injured his shoulder as well.


The prognosis on either hasn't been officially determined.



Do you want to see the full video post-practice interview with head coach Bill Callahan? Do you want to see the full video post-practice interview with Zac Taylor? How about a photo gallery from Day 1 of Fall practices? You can check them out right now by taking a 7 day FREE TRIAL here on Big Red Report. You can see and hear what you're missing.






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