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In better-fitting cleats, Chubba Purdy builds bonds with his Nebraska teammates

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Red-White Spring Game, 4.9

Nebraska’s Chubba Purdy (6) throws a pass during the Red-White Spring Game on April 9 at Memorial Stadium.

The Sharpies were bleeding dry at the sports foundation fields.

Nebraska quarterback Chubba Purdy signed dozens of T-shirts, footballs and other memorabilia during NU’s football development camp on Saturday. At one point, he ran out of ink. At another, he paused an interview to sign one more shirt.

The camp was for the kids. But the coaches, which included Purdy and 29 of his teammates, needed it too. Nebraska has welcomed 33 new players to the program this offseason. Nine were at Saturday’s camp — teaching basics, blowing whistles and building rapport with their teammates.

“We got new guys and (returning players) bonding with each other, having fun, cracking jokes with the kids,” Purdy said. “I think this is a great thing for Husker football and all the new guys coming in.”

Purdy practiced only twice with his new teammates this spring because he missed six weeks with a foot injury. Purdy said his old Nike cleats were too tight and hurt his feet. 

Meanwhile, he used the down time to dive into new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s playbook. Purdy downloaded the first nine install phases  — four to nine slides per install, about eight plays per slide — onto his iPad. He drew the routes on a blank document to help embed them into his memory.

Nothing could substitute for the reps he missed, though. Purdy said he played “pretty well” during Nebraska’s spring game, but he also thought he could’ve played better with more practice time.

“It's tough because I want to get in there and show these coaches (and) my teammates what I can do,” Purdy said after the spring game. “(I’m) trying to learn and read and get the physical reps, not just the mental reps.”

Now wearing Adidas cleats, Purdy said he and the rest of NU’s quarterbacks work with NU’s receivers every morning. First in the weight room, then in 7-on-7 drills with Whipple offering pointers. Receivers rotate between reps so they can build rapport with every passer.

Purdy said he’s become fast friends with quarterback Logan Smothers, tight ends Travis Vokolek and Nate Boerkircher, running back Trevin Luben and offensive lineman Turner Corcoran. They hang out, they golf. Purdy says Vokolek has the best swing of the bunch.

“He did lose to us (Friday), though,” Purdy added.

On Saturday, Purdy and the Huskers were keeping score again. Huskers sprinted after campers who broke big runs during scrimmages. They hoisted touchdown-scorers into the air. They encouraged dances after successful reps.

Purdy hopes to see more of those as fall camp approaches. More 7-on-7 drills, more routes against air. Every morning.

But he also sees value in building relationships. Swinging golf clubs and signing T-shirts can help the Huskers, too.

Especially for the new guys still acclimating to their new home.

“I’ve been making good relationships with a lot of our guys,” Purdy said. “We just all hang out, and I think that will benefit us as well. … I think what we put together here today was awesome.”

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