Will the wind chill crest above 0 degrees today? Eh, maybe not. But we can take a drive anyway and crank the heat.
1. If all goes according to plan — at this point, of course, that “if” is doing some serious work — Nebraska’s spring football schedule might actually work out better than it does in normal years.
The Huskers are planning on having five uninterrupted weeks for spring ball, rather than the typical setup in which coach Scott Frost and company have to work around UNL’s spring break.
“You just have to be light on your feet nowadays with all of this stuff going on,” Frost said last week. “I am kind of pleased with how it’s all going to work out this year. It gives us a chance to get spring ball done in one swing rather than having spring break in the middle of it.
“A May 1 spring game with our fingers crossed that fans can be there gives us a better chance of having a great day for that. We try not to push the kids, so we go three practices a week, and having five straight weeks of that, I think, sets up well for us to make the improvements we need.”
UNL is operating on a modified spring semester schedule that doesn’t include a spring break and instead started later (Jan. 25) to be completed by May 8.
As the schedule currently stands, the Huskers will wrap up spring ball with the Red-White Spring Game on May 1, just ahead of finals week (May 3-7).
2. Now that the football program is out of regular-season work, it also is in a different COVID-19 testing program.
During the season, players, coaches and staffers were tested daily as part of the Big Ten’s rapid testing program. Now out of season, NU is back to doing daily symptom checks and a modified testing program. Members of the program also take part in UNL’s new campus-wide testing protocol, which calls for everybody on campus to be tested periodically.
“The campus protocols have changed a little and that’s helped us make sure that we get the kids back and keep them healthy,” Frost said. “We’ve kind of gone back to a little bit more of a program like we used in the offseason last year before the season got started. It’s costly to test kids every day. We’re just doing a really good job of monitoring potential symptoms and health and making sure that we’re keeping an eye on everybody’s health and testing when appropriate.”
3. The Husker coaching staff’s been on the recruiting trail — well, not actually on the trail, but working on the 2022 class from Lincoln — including several virtual visits.
Among them, defensive back Jordan Allen (Lafayette, Louisiana) who told the Journal Star he was impressed with the presentation and that he’s being recruited by the whole coaching staff.
Allen is considered a three-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals but has racked up a considerable list of offers.
Another intriguing virtual visitor: Fargo, North Dakota, athlete Carson Hegerle. He doesn’t have an offer from NU at this point but has picked up four FCS offers, including local power North Dakota State. Hegerle is listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He indicated on Twitter that he talked with offensive coordinator Matt Lubick during his visit.
The Huskers also hosted a virtual visit with 2022 pass-rusher Jimmy Scott, who until recently was verbally committed to Tennessee. NU just offered the Buffalo, New York-area prospect last week.
“We’ve got a ton of kids that are anxious to come see Lincoln,” Frost said. “We do the best when kids have a chance to come see Lincoln and see the people of Lincoln and meet the fans and maybe even be at a home game, so we’ll be in a better position the minute we can have unofficial and official visits and we’ll do the best we can in the meantime.”
4. Nebraska on Tuesday offered a new class of 2022 quarterback.
The latest to earn an offer is Conner Harrell out of Alabaster, Alabama. He also has offers from Tennessee, Louisville, Duke and a host of Group of Five schools.
Harrell put up huge numbers as a junior at Thompson High. According to MaxPreps, he completed more than 73% of his passes for 3,568 yards and 42 touchdowns against just three interceptions. he also ran for 319 yards (5.2 per carry) and five touchdowns.
Harrell is listed at 6-1 and 190 pounds.
Also, NU showed up in a top six for 2022 pass-rusher Joshua White (Decatur, Georgia).
The Cedar Grove High standout put the Huskers alongside Georgia, Ohio State, Arkansas, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State.
He is listed at 6-4 and 250 pounds and is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals, which pegs him as the No. 222 player nationally in the class. 247Sports has not yet ranked him.
Four-star Michigan native Jaden Mangham (6-3, 185) also put out a top group including the Huskers, and while he listed 15 schools, NU has been in regular contact. Mangham (Birmingham, Michigan) is being recruited as a receiver and said he talks with Lubick multiple times per week.
5. Nebraska’s been introducing some of its early enrollees with short videos on social media. USC running back transfer Markese Stepp explained what drew him to Lincoln, including the recruiting pitch from Frost and running backs coach Ryan Held.
“What really stood out about Coach Frost and Coach Held was how genuine they were,” Stepp said. “Coach Frost told me everything that I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. That was the same with Coach Held. He told me there was a need for a running back and that I have to come in and compete, but you have to compete everywhere. He said if I come in and compete, great things happen to those who just put their head down and work.
“I feel like this is a great place, it’s a fresh start, and that’s something I can do.”
6. Not surprisingly, Montana wide receiver transfer Samori Toure also mentioned relationships and the benefit of familiarity with the Pacific Northwest.
“I felt a connection with Coach Lubick, Coach Frost and (offensive quality control coach Steve) Cooper as well. Coach Lubick and Coach Frost are both Oregon guys, I’m from Oregon, so that was a connection right there. I felt like we really just hit it off.”
Toure said he doesn’t usually compare himself to other players, but he might pick Carolina Panthers receiver Robby Anderson, the former Temple standout who topped 1,000 yards this fall and has four straight seasons of 750 yards or more.
“I’m not the biggest, not the strongest, but I’m fast, I can run routes and I can make explosive plays,” Toure said.