Red Report: Turner takes his turn at QB

2014-03-08T19:15:00Z 2014-03-12T22:20:54Z Red Report: Turner takes his turn at QBBy the Lincoln Journal Star
March 08, 2014 7:15 pm  • 

Jamal Turner wasn't just catching footballs during Nebraska's first spring practice. He was throwing them, too.

In fact, the senior spent more time working with the quarterbacks than the receivers Saturday. Spring experimentation or something more?

"It just gives us some other options and some wildcat things," Husker coach Bo Pelini said. "Jamal has some quarterback in his background. It's not new to him. He's done that at times. We're going to give him some significant reps at quarterback this spring. Kind of see where it is.

"It just gives you more options as far as different things we have in the back of our mind as far as how we can attack people."

Pelini said coaches approached Turner about taking some snaps at QB, something he'd done at practice earlier in his career at Nebraska.

"He likes it," Pelini said. "He thinks he's Russell Wilson. Jamal isn't lacking for confidence. And I think he's obviously far enough along as a wide receiver where we can take away some of his reps, give some (other) guys reps at the wide receiver spot."

Pelini's evaluation of Turner's day? "He was further ahead than I thought he'd be."

Fellow senior wide receiver Kenny Bell was supportive of Turner's attempt at quarterback.

"I love it," he said. "Let's get the best guys on the field, wherever you can. Having him in there definitely doesn't hurt us, that's for sure."

* A NEW VOICE: Charlton Warren made his debut on the field in his first practice as Nebraska's secondary coach.

Senior cornerback Josh Mitchell, on his fourth position coach in five years, said it's been an "easy transition" under Warren.

Mitchell said Warren's energy sticks out.

"He was out there yelling, jumping around with us, running down the field with us. I thought he was going to pull a hamstring."

* SIDELINED: Senior safety Corey Cooper sat out Saturday's practice, wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

It's a turf toe injury, Pelini said, but apparently nothing serious. "I'm not going to push Coop at this time of year."

With Cooper out, sophomore Nathan Gerry and LeRoy Alexander shared the field with the top unit at safety.

Other Huskers with injuries include defensive back Daniel Davie and offensive lineman Mike Moudy (shoulder issues), and wide receiver Alonzo Moore (knee). All are expected to miss the entire spring.

Quarterback Zack Darlington, who had concussion issues last fall as a high school senior, did participate in the practice but wore a green no-contact jersey.

* ROSTER CHANGES: Safety Harvey Jackson, and defensive linemen Tobi Okuyemi and Jay Guy, were not listed on the spring roster or present during Saturday's first practice. All three were scholarship players.

Jackson, who would be senior this season, by far had the most playing experience of the trio, having appeared in 35 games and made four starts during his career.

He began last season as a starter next to Cooper, but had his playing time diminish as Alexander and Andrew Green emerged.

Jackson had 54 tackles during his career and one memorable fumble recovery, picking up the loose ball after Wisconsin's Montee Ball never got the handle on a deciding fourth-down play in the 2012 game in Lincoln.

Pelini has not been asked about the roster changes.

* TACKLE TALK: Alex Lewis, the transfer from Colorado, didn’t see much time Saturday with the first-string offensive line, but the 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior clearly possesses the level of aggressiveness needed to excel. As a sophomore in 2012 at CU, Lewis started all 12 games at left guard.

He’s starting his NU career as a tackle.

“There’s a lot of guys to watch out here, but I’ll tell you what, he’s blended in fine, he’s doing a good job, and the kid’s had a great attitude,” Pelini said. “I like what he’ll bring to our team.”

Zach Sterup got first crack at right tackle with the top unit, with redshirt freshman David Knevel working the left side. With Lewis and Matt Finnin among those in the conversation, the position battle figures to carry through the fall.

On the interior of the line, left guard Jake Cotton stood out as someone who obviously got after it during winter conditioning, looking lean and appearing to have shed some bad weight. Givens Price, meanwhile, was getting a chance to work with the top guys at right guard. At center, Mark Pelini, Ryne Reeves and Paul Thurston all took turns taking snaps.

* ED'S IMPRESSED: Ed Orgeron, keynote speaker Friday at the Nebraska Spring Coaches’ Clinic, mentioned a few things that stood out during his weekend trip to Lincoln.

As a coach who specializes in defensive line play, he quickly noticed defensive tackle Vincent Valentine and defensive end Randy Gregory.

The former Mississippi head coach also noticed the football facilities.

Boy, did he notice the facilities.

“A-plus,” he said, mentioning the “way things flow.”

“Once a player gets here, the academics, the (medical) treatments, the weight room, the stadium — everything is close to together,” he said. “Once you come here, you can stay all day. I think it’s fantastic.”

The 52-year-old Orgeron, regarded as a grade-A recruiter, this past season was interim head coach at USC for eight games, leading a banged-up group on a 6-2 run that included an upset of eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford.

He arrived in Lincoln on Thursday with his three sons -- one in college and twins in high school. Like Pelini, Orgeron has a close relationship with Pete Carroll.

Pelini was defensive coordinator at LSU (2005-07) while Orgeron was head coach at Ole Miss during the same years.

“I have the ultimate respect for Bo as a football coach,” Orgeron said. “It’s his defensive knowledge, his personality, his willingness to be the very best. Just listening to his staff and what they’re doing in recruiting … I can feel the chemistry among the staff.

“I’m real impressed with (Pelini’s) organizational skills and everything about the place. Great place.”

* POPULAR HANGOUT: Nebraska's first spring practice had plenty of onlookers. The sidelines at Hawks Championship Center were full of high school coaches, media and a few former players.

Among the recent former Huskers looking on were Rex Burkhead, Thad Randle and Brion Carnes.

Also in attendance was John Copeland, a former All-America defensive end and first-round draft pick who was on Alabama's 1992 national championship team. Now a high school football coach at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Academy, he's the father of 2014 Husker linebacker recruit Jaevon Walton.

Also checking out the scene was offensive tackle recruit Gabe Megginson (Jacksonville, Ill.), who has a full list of scholarship offers, including from Nebraska.

— Brian Christopherson and Steven M. Sipple

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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