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HUSKER FOOTBALL

Frost talks departure of 'one of my best friends'; young QB battle; Markese Stepp progress

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NU football practice, 8.4

Nebraska coach Scott Frost watches his team run drills Aug. 4 at Hawks Championship Center.

Nebraska football chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht is leaving the program to pursue another business opportunity, Husker coach Scott Frost announced Friday.

The longtime friends came to Lincoln together when Frost was hired by NU. Lambrecht served as Frost’s chief of staff/director of football operations at Central Florida in 2016 and 2017 and has been in charge of most day-to-day off-field program matters here since.

"He's responsible for a lot of the progress we've made around here, getting things done," Frost said. "He's one of my best friends in the world, and he's been infinitely valuable to us around here."

Frost said Nebraska director of football operations Andrew Sims, who had served as Lambrecht's assistant, will step into Lambrecht’s role. Sims’ previous role included working closely with Lambrecht and associate athletic director for football Matt Davison.

“We almost lost (Sims) to another school to be the full-time DFO, so he’ll step into that role and we’ll get him some help, as well,” Frost said.

Lambrecht "loves the players dearly, and the guys know that," Frost said. “Part of the reason he’s leaving is looking for an opportunity to help them in a different way. We’ll miss Gerrod. Those are some big shoes to fill, but we feel good about the guys doing it.”

In his role at Nebraska, Lambrecht had a lead role with all administrative aspects of the program, including serving as a liaison with athletic administration and other areas within the Nebraska athletic department.

In 2020, Lambrecht helped oversee the development of Nebraska football’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was credited by Frost with having NU as organized as it was through the uncertainty during the spring and summer.

Frost and Lambrecht have been friends since 1989, Frost said.

The two were high school teammates at Wood River, with Lambrecht playing center for the Eagles before a college career at Concordia University in Seward.

Lambrecht also was an offensive line coach for one season at Concordia and as an offensive and defensive line coach for two seasons at Valparaiso. Prior to joining his former teammate in the college game, Lambrecht spent 17 years in the healthcare field.

Notes

Young QBs battling: The learning curve is steep for freshman quarterbacks Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg.

Because of the amount of experience the rest of the offense has collectively, the young signal-callers got thrown right into the deep end when preseason camp began.

“We’re kind of approaching fall camp a little bit different this year — we always do — but we want to throw everything at ’em quick,” Frost said. “I want to get that first unit available to run anything we need to run early on and then we’ll start scaling it back and dialing in a little more. So we’re throwing a lot at those guys, particularly Haarberg.

“They picked up right where they left off in spring. Both of them are doing really good things.”  

The head coach said it was too early to say how they might stack up behind junior starter Adrian Martinez, but intimated that Haarberg and Smothers will continue vying for the No. 2 job well past the end of camp.

"I have no idea how it will shake out right now, but they're both doing good things," Frost said. "Whatever decision we make for Game 1 might not be the decision for Game 2, so we’ll keep bringing them both along."

Stepp in the right direction: Another day, another round of praise for USC transfer running back Markese Stepp, who is ahead of schedule in his return from offseason foot surgery.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Markese Stepp’s progress,” Frost said. “Weren’t sure he was going to be 100% coming into camp and I still don’t think he’s quite 100%, but he’s stacked some pretty good practices together and is further along with knowing the scheme and everything than I was expecting him to be.

“I’ve been really happy with his performance in the first few practices.”

Depth charting: NU is close to having some of its positions figured out, but Frost said there’s still work to be done to finalize the running back spot, wide receiver rotation and the kickoff specialist and punter, among potentially others.

“We’re already kind of there, to be honest with you,” Frost said, when asked about making depth chart decisions. “We’re splitting up groups a lot more, getting young guys a lot more reps. That’s the way it’s operated at Nebraska for a long time. I want a lot of reps to go around. Repetition matters. Repetition matters.

“Most positions, I think, are pretty solidified with who we think it’s going to be. There’s some others that are up for grabs and we’ll keep getting guys chances.”

At receiver, Frost said, “There’s a lot of competition there to get into the top six. I imagine six are going to play for the most part and a couple other guys might sprinkle in. Still trying to figure out who those guys are exactly, but there’s a lot of guys that I think we can rely on right now to go in the game and make plays.”

Freshman LB Kpai hurt: Freshman inside linebacker Randolph Kpai, a mid-year enrollee, was at practice on Wednesday with a sling on his right arm. Frost said Friday that NU would be without him for the near future. 

"We’ve had a few nicks and bruises here and there, guys that are out for a few days. Randy’s is going to be a little bit longer," he said. "He was doing some really good things in camp, too, so we’re really excited about his future. Hate when those things happen, but we’ll be without him for a little bit." 

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

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