Note: The Nebraska quarterbacks are in a wide-open race for the starting job in the fall and on Tuesday were made available for interviews for the first time. Freshman Adrian Martinez, redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and sophomores Andrew Bunch and Noah Vedral spoke, while sophomore Patrick O’Brien opted not to. The Journal Star has looks at Martinez, Gebbia and Bunch in Wednesday's newspaper and a story on Vedral, the Wahoo native and UCF transfer who is redshirting this season, later in the week.
He had to know the line of questioning was coming.
Tristan Gebbia posted monster passing numbers as a quarterback in a fast-paced, run-and-shoot system at Calabasas (California) High School, then spent last season in Nebraska's pro-style system redshirting.
He now is battling for the starting job in new Husker head coach Scott Frost's fast-paced, spread system, which includes plenty of quarterback runs.
"I didn't do a whole lot of running in high school, but when I did, I feel like I always got us like 8, 10 yards," Gebbia told reporters Tuesday, noting his high school team lacked depth at quarterback.
"When I had to run, I was able to, and I kind of want to do that again."
Nebraska has plenty of weapons at a quarterback's disposal, he noted.
"But if I have to go out there and make a play, I guess I will, too," he said following the eighth practice of spring drills.
Gebbia has good speed, Frost said.
"I think more than speed, it's getting him bigger and stronger so that he can take the hits and do those types of things," the coach said. "We're going to ask the guys to carry the ball some, and there's big guys in this league (Big Ten)."
Gebbia last season was listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. Has he gained weight?
"I don't know how much I've gained, but I feel really good," he said. "I feel I can handle the pounding. There's a lot of good teams in the Big Ten and across the country. We have really good guys up front, and I think they'll do a good job protecting me."
Gebbia finished his career at Calabasas as the second-leading passer in California high school history, throwing for 13,109 yards and 141 touchdowns in three seasons as a starter. As a senior, he was ranked No. 10 nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in the 247 Composite rankings — a natural for former Nebraska head coach Mike Riley's pro-style attack.
Now, however, Gebbia eagerly learns the nuances of a new system.
"It's a lot of going fast and making plays," he said. "It's a lot of 'feel' stuff, so you get to go out there and just play ball. It's a lot of fun."
He said competition at his position has been intense and great for the team — and that he doesn't necessarily need to know a pecking order at the close of spring ball.
"Whatever's best for the team is what should happen," he said.
Asked for his thought process about the possibility of transferring following Riley's dismissal last fall, Gebbia said:
"Nebraska's my home now. I love it here. Everything about it is great. The people have been really good to me. I heard great things about Coach Frost coming in here. Obviously, he won all those (national) coaching awards. It was tough to be like, 'No, I'm not staying for this.'
"This is a special moment in time. I couldn't leave my teammates. Those are my guys."