Michigan State vs. Nebraska, 11.17

Nebraska tight ends coach Sean Beckton during warmups prior to the Michigan State game at Memorial Stadium last November. Beckton spoke Thursday on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program about the size of the players in his tight end room.

Sean Beckton returns every contributor from last year’s Nebraska football roster and can keep his entire group together for at least this fall and next.

That’s a coaching luxury in its own right, but the second-year Husker tight ends coach couldn’t help but heap some praise on the newest member of his room — Rutgers transfer Travis Vokolek — during a Thursday evening interview on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program.

“He’s a huge human being,” Beckton said. “His dad is a college coach, so he understands the game. I’ve met him a few times and he’s a very, very interesting prospect. He’s all of 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, so he’s heavier than the guys that we have on the roster right now.

“He seems to be very intelligent. He understands the scheme and the things we’re trying to do offensively.”

Without a waiver for immediate playing time, Vokolek will have to sit out the 2019 season and then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2020. He saw the field for the Scarlet Knights as a true freshman in 2017 and as a sophomore last year, compiling 16 catches for 184 yards and hauling in two of Rutgers’ five passing touchdowns in 2018.

While he may be NU’s most complete combination of size and strength right now, he certainly isn’t the only big tight end in Beckton’s room.

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Beckton said on the program that he didn’t think sophomores Austin Allen (6-8, 240) and Kurt Rafdal (6-7, 250) were physically ready to play in the Big Ten last year, but that they’ve both made big gains this offseason.

He was also complimentary of redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone (6-3, 235), saying he’s working to learn more of the intricate details of the offense, and reiterated the spring status quo for freshman Chris Hickman. The Omaha Burke standout had a shoulder injury and didn’t participate much in spring and Beckton said he has work to do in order to be physically capable of holding up in game action.

That makes Stoll (6-5, 260), Allen, Rafdal and Legrone an intriguing set.

“(Head coach Scott) Frost, we talk about trying to find ways to really utilize all four of those tight ends, which gives us a lot of different avenues to move the football,” Beckton said.

Vokolek, then, is the wild card in an already physically imposing room.

“We’re just thrilled to have some of these monsters that I’m going to have for a long time here in the program," Beckton said, "and we’re really, really looking forward to adding another addition to what we’re trying to do in the program offensively.”

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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