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Spring Game, 4.13

Quarterback Luke McCaffrey looks for running room during the second half of the Red-White Spring Game on April 13 at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska preseason camp is creeping ever closer, and the Journal Star is counting down the 30 most intriguing Huskers between now and the beginning of camp.

We decided to expand the list slightly from last year’s version, which ran before head coach Scott Frost’s first spring ball. With a roster of 150-plus and so many question marks still in play, there’s no shortage of interesting story lines.

A couple of notes: This isn’t best player or most important. As a list based on intrigue, it skews a bit toward youth and new players, but there will be plenty of established contributors, too.

The only scholarship player not considered for the list is defensive lineman Jahkeem Green, because at the outset of our countdown he is still in junior college and is only verbally bound to Nebraska.

We’ll start with No. 30 and work our way to No. 1 on Aug. 1, the day Nebraska players report for camp.

No. 30: Luke McCaffrey, QB, freshman

When Husker Extra first put together a Most Intriguing Husker list before head coach Scott Frost’s first spring ball, the top three spots were occupied by quarterbacks Patrick O’Brien, Adrian Martinez and Tristan Gebbia.

Needless to say, Mario Verduzco’s room has changed radically since then. Gebbia and O’Brien are long gone, Martinez is one of the ascendant talents in college football and the group, NU coaches believe, sports significant functional depth behind the budding star sophomore.

Which brings us to McCaffrey, the youngest in a family of football royalty, who arrived on campus in January and has done nothing but impress since.

His intrigue, at least as it pertains to 2019, is not about a starting job, but rather how far he can push the envelope. Nebraska believes it can win a game with either sophomore Noah Vedral — whom Frost said in spring would be the No. 2 at that moment — or junior walk-on Andrew Bunch. Verduzco and Frost will want to get both at least some game action.

Given the four-game redshirt rule, though, they also almost certainly want to get McCaffrey a taste of game action, too. When does that happen? And can McCaffrey, a gifted athlete with big-time speed who Verduzco said this spring will be “hell on wheels” as he ramps up and refines his throwing motion, make a push toward the No. 2 job?

Martinez is the undisputed guy and two other veterans provide security, but McCaffrey’s presence adds a good dose of intrigue to what is arguably the Huskers’ best position group.

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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