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NU football vs. Minnesota, 10/20/18

Nebraska's Mohamed Barry (7) celebrates a tackle against Minnesota last season at Memorial Stadium.

Summer’s here and the time is right, we’re going racing (or at least for a drive) in the street.

1. Nebraska’s official summer conditioning program is underway as of Monday and it’s about as early as it could have possibly started.

The Huskers now have eight official weeks to use for their strength program and will sprinkle in a couple of voluntary weeks and also bring The Program, led by former special forces commander Erik Kapitulik, back in the middle of June. Head coach Scott Frost is close with Kapitulik and has used The Program consistently over the past 10 years since the pair met when Frost was at Oregon.

It’s obviously a critical stretch in terms of development, so Frost and company wanted to waste no time getting down to official business.

Nebraska (and other schools) needed a waiver from the NCAA to bring players back a couple of weeks early last year, but that rule’s been changed and now NU can get right to work.

Of NU’s 21 incoming scholarship players, up to 16 are expected to arrive on campus between May 19-25. Two of the four who won’t be, of course, are juco transfers Dedrick Mills — who could join the list of early arrivers depending on his grades at Garden City (Kansas) Community College this semester — and Jahkeem Green, who told the Journal Star last week he has one more class to take this summer. It will also be interesting to see how quickly Cal graduate transfer wide receiver Kanawai Noa gets to campus.

2. Speaking of Noa, let’s venture to do just a little bit of projecting.

Most of the comments from Cal coach Justin Wilcox and the Bears’ staff are about Noa and his ability to operate out of the slot, with the versatility to move outside.

At 6 feet and 185 pounds, Noa is a little bit lighter than departed senior Stanley Morgan, but he’s in the same neighborhood. Remember, Morgan checked in at the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis this spring at 6 feet and 202 pounds.

Noa shows the ability on tape to win in the middle of the field, make tough catches in traffic and navigate through coverage.

Given the complexion of NU’s receivers room — think JD Spielman, Wan’Dale Robinson, etc. — and the relative youth on the outside, where redshirt freshman Andre Hunt had ascended to the top line this spring, and it’s not a stretch to think Noa might get a good long look at the “X” spot.

Noa, a Hawaii native, has missed chunks of two seasons — 2016 and last year — with injuries, but has been very productive when healthy, compiling 86 catches for 1,157 and six scores over 19 games the past two seasons.

Offensive coordinator Troy Walters loves players that can move around, and Noa should provide some of that. The bet here, though, is that Noa is coming to Lincoln to help bridge the gap outside between Morgan and Nebraska’s youth movement at receiver.

3. This one slipped by a couple of weeks ago, but an NCAA rule change has a direct impact on a Nebraska position battle for 2019.

In April, the rules committee relaxed transfer rules pertaining to walk-ons, allowing them to transfer without sitting a year.

That means that Michigan State transfer punter William Przystup, who announced he was joining the Huskers back in January, does not actually have to sit out a season.

Nebraska has senior walk-ons Isaac Armstrong and Jackson Walker, and incoming freshman walk-on Grant Detlefsen — the group’s lone scholarship player, Caleb Lightbourn, announced his transfer last month — and now Przystup will be part of the competition this fall, too.

A refresher: Przystup (Oviedo, Florida) punted in MSU’s final four games last year, including a nice outing in tough conditions at Memorial Stadium, and decided to leave the program after the season. He averaged 40.6 yards per punt, had five of 50-plus and put nine inside the opponents’ 20. He’ll be a redshirt freshman in 2019.

4. If we add Noa, Green and Przystup to NU’s current online roster, that makes 152 players. There’s one spot remaining in the 2019 class and the Huskers are actively pursuing filling that final spot.

That player could be a graduate transfer or otherwise, though, anything other than a one-year player will take up a spot that could be used in the 2020 class.

There’s not necessarily a big rush, either. Remember that Tre Neal joined the program in late July last year, and two years ago Frost and company added future first-round corner Mike Hughes right at the outset of preseason camp.

5. Former Nebraska offensive lineman Jerald Foster and former defensive lineman Freedom Akinmoladun both made it on to training camp rosters after getting invited to minicamp.

There’s still a long way to go for both, of course, but making a 90-man roster as a tryout player is still a very nice accomplishment.

Foster, the Lincoln Southeast graduate and two-time Husker captain, is on Washington’s training camp roster, and Akinmoladun is on the Giants.

They join classmates Morgan (Cincinnati), linebackers Luke Gifford (Dallas) and Dedrick Young (Cleveland) in NFL camps.

6. Husker defensive back Tony Butler had a nice thread of tweets Monday evening about how he’s on track to graduate in August and has been accepted into graduate school. It’s worth a read.

That's the good stuff. 

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

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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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