Gabbert makes it in for Nebraska QB Academy

A record estimate of 97 quarterbacks, ranging from freshmen to be to those going into their final year of prep ball, converged on Lincoln for the third annual QB Elite Academy at the University of Nebraska . Of course, Husker fans are probably just one. That would be Blaine Gabbert, of course, and even though he is a commit, this was one thing he definitely wanted to do.

I suppose you could ask future Husker, Parkway West quarterback Blaine Gabbert why he even attended the third annual QB Academy at the University of Nebraska. But then again, the previous two "marquee" QB commits to the big red also attended this event/instructional camp.

Perhaps now is not the best time to rehash who those two were and where they are now.

You can bet the house on this one being around for awhile, though, and for Gabbert, the decision to attend the camp was easy. "Really, I just wanted to come out here and hang out with all the guys and get coached by coach Watson," he said

Gabbert listens intently as QB Coach Shawn Watson goes over some
of the Drills for the day.

The coaching he gets now is obviously just the start of what will be a collegiate career learning from Nebraska 's quarterback coach and Shawn Watson is also the offensive coordinator. But despite the fact that this is a seemingly more relaxed atmosphere than it will be during game weeks, Gabbert takes to this camp and the competition as serious as he does anything else. "I still want to do my best. I am a pretty competitive type and you always want to try hard," Gabbert said.

Gabbert focuses in a target in one of the 3-step drills

With that being said, Gabbert didn't feel that being the only future Husker amongst this group, was any sort of pressure on him to make sure he came out on top. "There is somewhat, but you aren't on your game every day, and there's more things beyond being accurate hitting a target."

The infamous targets – those static nets with holes in the middle which seem so easy to hit. The problem is, most of these participants in this camp have never thrown to a motionless target in their life. Gabbert is one of those. Actually, that's not completely true as he did do something like this a couple of years prior. "I was here two years ago for their camp and I'm a lot different physically than I was at that time," he said. "But I'd still rather throw at a moving target. It sounds harder, but it really isn't. Just when it comes to judging movement, depth – all that stuff, it's just easier if the target isn't just standing there."

You might say that is the good thing for quarterbacks who attend during the regular sessions of the Big Red Football School . They usually have an abundance of receivers, tight ends and running backs who are all very eager to catch balls. Not at the QB Academy, but Gabbert takes that in stride, and it really doesn't matter where the ball is going, because how it gets there is the most important thing. "That's really one of the biggest reasons why I came up here for this camp, and that was to get coached by coach Watson," he said. "Him being the offensive coordinator and the quarterback's coach, he's going to have a big part in my life here, but he's just such a great guy, down to earth and really smooth. He's my favorite coach so far."

As Gabbert continued through the first part of the quarterback drills today, it wasn't hard to see and even hear the effects of one of his most noticeable strengths. And that, of course, was the strength itself. The ball comes out like a fireball and if it happens to hit something metal, your first inclination is to find a body shop to fix the dent. It points toward probably the most important challenge of this camp, at least to the machismo-side of things:

The long ball

In recent years we have seen some major arms compete in this event, two of them Husker commits, both Harrison Beck and Josh Freeman throwing close to 70 yards. That would be a nice toss for Gabbert, but he said that if he did throw it that far, it wouldn't be his best. "I threw it 82 yards at a practice. I had a little wind, but not much," Gabbert said. "I actually won that event here when I was going to be a sophomore, so I'd like to win it again."

The nature of the camp is for education, Coach Shawn Watson leading a group of other coaches from around the state and the country, in teaching these campers the fine points of fundamentals and technique. They are thin drilled in a variety of competitions, where they will see if they can utilize what they learn.

There are the three and five-step challenges, which are then followed by the favored long-ball and then followed up by the speed ball, which is an event that was done the first year of the Academy, but wasn't last season. That will then be followed up by the wet ball competition and then the quarterbacks try their hand at the seven step drop.

On the final day the quarterbacks are greeted with the "Ultimate Challenge", which will more than likely be a combination of everything they have worked on throughout the three day camp.

And if when the competition is done Gabbert doesn't find himself sitting the standings, he won't give it a second thought. That's not what he necessarily came here to do. "I came to compete, but if I win, that doesn't make me a better quarterback than I was and if I lose, I certainly not any worse," he said. "The coaches already know what I can do. This is just kind of a fun thing to do, and it's a chance for me to learn more from my future coach."

All the seriousness aside, Gabbert said one of his goals in this event
was simply to have some fun.

"It's great, and I'm already having a great time. So, win or lose, I am going to try and compete, because that's just how I am. But I'm going to have fun."

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