Big Red Football School Is Back

From coast-to-coast and even beyond, an estimated 300 prep-athletes from all over the country and even a few outside of it, converged on Lincoln, Nebraska for the first session of The Big Red Football School. It's where in and out-of-state football players came to learn, while some came to show what they could do.

You can tell the reach of the Big Red Football School at the University of Nebraska has extended its reach a little. Try Germany, one of the three countries outside of the United States represented at the third annual event.


It's not an event, of course, it's a school, where those kids and some 297 others came to the home of the big red to pick up a few lessons pertaining to their position, and for some, maybe they could show the Husker staff enough, that they would get an official scholarship to join the Huskers.


What it is more than anything, though, is a place, where kids go to learn the game, get a brief glimpse of what it's like to be a student-athlete at the collegiate level, and maybe take something back with them, which will benefit them on and off the field. "I tell these kids all the time, if they are wanting to go to one of those camps, where you eat, cookout and just hang out, this isn't it," Camp organizer and Associate Athletic Director Tim Cassidy said. "You've got big-time coaches here, teaching these kids just like they were on the team."


"When the coaches cross that line onto the field, they don't coach you any different than they would if you were Barrett Ruud, going into your senior year."


Zane Abner

There are certainly more than a few, amongst this group, who are trying to be the next Barrett Ruud. Actually, it wouldn't have to be Ruud. It would simply have to be one of number of kids each year who get recruited and then offered by the big red.


There are plenty hoping for that.


One of those, who out of this session, stands as one of the better chances, was West Holt high school's Zane Abner. A multi-faceted athlete, you could list Abner at almost any skill position on either side of the ball. At 6 foot, 4 inches and approximately 190 pounds, Abner has good size now, but has one of those frames, which could be suited to play a variety of positions in the future.


Point of fact, Abner worked out for the coaches individually following the camp at wideout, but said that tomorrow he would be working out for them at the safety position.


For West Holt, Zane was prolific to say the least, notching 50 tackles, along with nine interceptions, two of which he took back for touchdowns. On offense, while Abner couldn't recall specific stats for the season, he said that he caught two balls for scores, which were over 85 yards each.


Abner had impressive feet in the agility drills, showed very good hands in the various catching drills he was asked to execute and he showed relatively good speed.


Zane said that the attention he's gotten thus far has been mostly from Ohio, Nebraska, San Diego State University and Kansas. Did

Taylor Cook

Zane help his chances at possibly getting an offer from his performance on the first day? Probably not at this point, but his stock certainly didn't go down. Abner is a solid athlete.


Another player exhibiting his ability was Omaha Central junior Taylor Cook. To watch him play, Cook has extremely good quickness, very good change of direction and exhibited some pretty nice hands. The only major downside is his height, Cook not quite reaching 5 foot, 10 inches tall.


At corner that's not an issue, but Cook would be looked at more than likely to play either safety or corner, and in coverage, he was a bit slow in adjusting in coverage. Much of this might have to do with the simple fact that Taylor hasn't played on the defense much at all since his freshman year.


Taylor ran a good 40, running a reported 4.50 each of the two times he ran today. The other hit Cook could take, at least in his measurables, was his 27 inch vertical. That most definitely wouldn't work at corner, considering his height, but it's even a little "iffy" at safety.


Cook said that last year he caught between seven and 12 balls for Central, for approximately 300 yards. He's currently getting the most attention from Iowa State , but said that he's getting some attention from South Dakota and the University of Nebraska at Omaha as well.


Baker Steinkuhler made his appearance in this year's camp, easily one of the most impressive physical specimens for the entire session. Standing all of his reported 6 foot, 5 inches tall, weighing approximately 265 pounds, the younger brother of current Husker Ty Steinkuhler should already be one of if not the top prospect in the state for 2008.


Baker Steinkuhler

The linemen worked more with individual training sessions than they did drills or one-on-ones, but Baker and company will have time to show what they can do tomorrow. Just from his frame, and considering the fact that he hasn't yet reached the official status of "junior", this kid is a heck of a specimen to behold.


One particular player, who there was a bit of curiosity about when it was known he was going to attend the camp, is Jacksonville, Florida lineman Blake Pritchard. Before moving to the sunshine state, Pritchard lived in Omaha and attended Central high.


Just to evaluate his frame, Pritchard has an ideal one. He's big, standing 6 foot, 5 inches, maybe closer to 6 foot, 6, sporting some big hands, broad body and a very long reach. Unfortunately for Pritchard, he came in a little too big, carrying probably 20 pounds too much weight, which slowed him significantly.


I really like this kid's upside, when it comes to his physique, but it's hard to gauge him at this point, when he's simply not physically capable of performing at a level he needs to, to get a serious look from the big red. Pritchard currently has no offers.


For day two, there are bound to be a few more players arrive at the camp, similar to what players like Derrick Russell and Tyler Bullocks did last year, basically coming in to test and participate in what is essentially a one-day affair. One of those names expected to show up is the youngest of the Makovickas, Jordan coming in for day two.


Tomorrow is when the players will get a real chance to stretch their legs, strut their stuff and even show what they can do in the one-on-one drills, which are always the highlight of camps. We'll keep you posted on those, who looked good, who might have improved their stock and anything else we can think of, to keep you up-to-date with the 2006 version of the Big Red Football School .


Stay tuned.

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