It’s that time of year Husker fans - August has arrived, the boys of fall are back, and Nebraska football officially opens camp Thursday in Lincoln.
In honor of the start of camp and the fan day festivities on Wednesday, here’s a few rapid fire thoughts on the 2016 Huskers to help get you in the football mood (should you need help with such things…)
COOLEST THING I HEARD WEDNESDAY AT FAN DAY
Nebraska will do a variety of things to honor Sam Foltz this fall, but chief among them will be awarding the Sam Foltz Memorial Scholarship to a member of the football team each fall.
According to NU, the scholarship “will be presented annually to a member of the football program who embodied Foltz’s traits of leadership, excellence in the community and in the classroom.”
The first winner will be recognized on the field prior to Nebraska’s season opener against Fresno State on Sept. 3 - a presentation that no Husker fan will want to miss. I was told Foltz’s family was a driving force behind establishing the scholarship.
Nebraska will also rename the Hero Leadership Award to the Sam Foltz Hero 27 Leadership Award, and present it annually to 27 student athletes that exhibit strong leadership qualities, commitment to service and ability to encourage and empower peers.
Sounds like a perfect tribute to me.
GOOD NEWS ON THE INJURY FRONT
The best injury news of the day was that De’Mornay Pierson-El has been 100 percent cleared by Nebraska’s medical staff to participate in fall camp.
Now, that doesn’t mean he’ll be 100 percent right out of the gates for the Huskers - it’s been a long road back from injury and he hasn’t done much in terms of live practice, but its still a great sign. The coaches will manage his reps in fall camp, but if everything goes well, there’s a chance DPE could be nearing full speed sometime early this season.
BEST FALL CAMP POSITION BATTLE? LINEBACKER.
Surprised by that answer?
Nebraska has incredible depth at the linebacker spot after numerous players were forced into duty last season due to injuries, and for the most part performed incredibly well.
Josh Banderas, Michael Rose-Ivey, Dedrick Young, Marcus Newby, Chris Weber, and Luke Gifford all have significant playing experience, and newcomers like Mo Barry will press for playing time as well.
Don’t be shocked if someone you expect to start get pushed hard at some point this fall - for the first time in a while, Nebraska is deep at linebacker.
THE VIBE? HUNGRY AND CONFIDENT
Mike Riley says his football team is hungry this fall, and hungry for one thing - to win. Credit a strong finish to the season last year and a victory over UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl for helping energize this team through the offseason.
As Riley said, even if Nebraska snuck into a bowl game through the back door, you can’t discount how much it meant to end the season on a high note.
The players I talked to all seemed a bit more confident and relaxed than a year ago at this point. Maybe there’s less nervous anticipation than a year ago with a new coaching staff, or maybe everyone is more bought in this year, but I’d say the players I spoke with seemed to have a calm, confident vibe on Wednesday.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Who knows?
FRESHMAN WATCH - WHO WILL PLAY?
Mike Riley dropped a tasty bit of info on Wednesday by saying the staff will be looking closely at “five or six” true freshman through the first two weeks of camp that might play this fall. He declined to name anyone, not wanting to put additional pressure on young players.
Riley did say guys that play won’t just get a two or three snaps on offense or defense, but will likely be on multiple special teams units and be in the mix for serious playing time at their primary spots.
Here’s a few names I’d watch to be in that mix:
Caleb Lightbourn, P (the only scholarship punter, feel pretty safe on this one)
Lamar Jackson, DB
Marquel Dismuke, DB
Tre Bryant, RB
Derrion Grim, WR
Quayshon Alexander, LB
That’s just a few that come to mind. Anyone in the defensive backfield could have a shot to play, and if there’s even one or two injuries at defensive end, a freshman could be pressed into service.
Decisions on who will redshirt will be made in the first few weeks of camp.
2016 NEBRASKA FALL CAMP SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Aug. 3 - Fan Day
Thursday, Aug. 4 - 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 5 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 6 - 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 7 - OFF DAY
Monday, Aug. 8 - 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 9 - 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 10 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 11 - 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 12 - 9:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 13 - 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 14 - OFF DAY
Monday, Aug. 15 - 9:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 16 - Noon
Wednesday, Aug. 17 - 9:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 18 - Noon
Friday, Aug. 19 - 9:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 20 - Noon
Sunday, Aug. 21 - OFF DAY
Monday, Aug. 22 - OFF DAY (First day of classes)
Tuesday, Aug. 23 - 3:50 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 24- 3:40 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 25 - 3:50 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 - 3:40 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 27 - 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 28 - OFF DAY
Welcome back to football Husker fans. Feels like it’s been too long.