College football is a pretty big thing around these parts. There’s very little downtime. So, you may say, covering the beat keeps you busy. Never a dull moment.
"May is an evaluation period, and June is camp season," said Parker Gabriel, the Journal Star Husker football beat writer, who is amid weekend camps entering his third season in Lincoln. "You have a Friday Night Lights camp coming up this weekend after last weekend’s national camp sponsored by Adidas, the Pipeline Camp with 300 campers."
Gabriel was making his debut speaking presentation to Executive Club members on June 17 at the Nebraska Club in downtown Lincoln. He joined the Journal Star sports staff in August of 2017 after a three-year stint at a newspaper in Bozeman, Montana, covering Montana State athletics including football and men’s basketball.
Gabriel noted that quickly approaching is July, which offers a reprieve for sports writers and coaches. During July, college football coaches’ contacts with recruits are limited to social media contacts.
“It forces football coaches into taking vacations,” said Gabriel, who grew up just outside Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to school at the University of Wisconsin and covered Badger football for the college newspaper.
“We’ve got the Big 10 Media Days July 18th through the 20th. So you can go pretty deep in the well for stories,” Gabriel continued. “I call it the list season, when all the publications are putting out their lists of rankings. It’s a relatively quiet time of year.”
Speaking of quiet, when it came time for predictions on the upcoming football season at Nebraska, Gabriel made a loud leap of faith.
“I think they’re (Husker football) in for a jump to 9-3. Put it down,” he said. “They could very well do that as their schedule is favorable. The floor is lower, and they should be a lot better. “
Gabriel pointed to a couple of players on offense who may be able to fit in for some significant playing time where the depth at the positions may be in question.
“Kanawai Noa might not start all 12 games next season, but I think he’ll play quite a bit,” Gabriel said about the senior wide receiver. “He’s not quite the physical presence of Stanley Morgan. He could play inside in the slot or outside where Stanley was.
“Then there’s Dedrick Mills. He was ACC freshman of the year with 800 yards rushing (in 2016). He’s built a little bit different from most of the running backs on the team. He’s 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds.”
Gabriel offered an interesting read on Husker quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.
“I had a fascinating conversation with Mario Vercuzco about quarterback footwork, intelligence at the position and their natural motion for the position,” he said. “Mario is like, you just know some kind of quote is going to come out of his mouth. (Freidrich) Nietzsche was his favorite philosopher, and then it would be (football coach) Bill Walsh.”
According to Gabriel, Verduzco went into an expanded description about the footwork that he’s working on with freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey. He said Verduzco literally took off his shoes to thoroughly explain the transfer of weight necessary in McCaffrey’s feet to position him for the most efficient way to throw the football effectively.