Nebraska football coach Scott Frost made it clear Tuesday morning that he feels no rush to add to his quarterbacks room.
Multiple reports this weekend indicated that the Huskers are among several programs interested in Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins. Frost didn’t eliminate the possibility of adding a graduate transfer, but said it’s not close to the top of the current to-do list.
“We’re not even thinking about that right now,” he said Tuesday morning after NU’s second spring practice. “We’re trying to get the guys here up to speed and playing as well as they possibly can. I think after spring ball we’ll take a look at that, but I’ve been impressed with the quarterback group so far.”
Frost told the Journal Star earlier this year that his ideal quarterback room has five scholarship players. While he’s usually a proponent of taking one quarterback per class, there may be an exception early in his tenure here in order to build numbers. Whether that move comes this offseason remains to be seen.
“Mario Verduzco’s a fabulous quarterbacks coach,” Frost said. “He’s devoted his life to it. I think we’ve got good talent at that position and I think those guys are going to keep getting better.”
A main consideration will be whether Verduzco and Frost feel they have the depth to navigate the 2018 schedule. NU has three scholarship quarterbacks — sophomore Patrick O’Brien, redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and freshman Adrian Martinez — and walk-on Andrew Bunch as eligible options for the fall.
“That’s going to be the question is if we have enough, in case an injury happens, to get through the year," Frost said. "But I’ve been impressed with Tristan, Patrick’s doing some good things, obviously Adrian’s here and Andrew Bunch has been doing some good things for us out there. We’ve got some guys that are learning fast and making some good plays.
“If those guys keep developing, I think we’ll be all right.”
Walker playing defensive line: Scott Frost made it official on Tuesday — Chris Walker is now a defensive lineman.
The Lincoln East graduate donned a white jersey on the first day of spring practice, strength coach Zach Duval referenced his position move on an Omaha radio show late last week and Frost said he’s excited about the move.
“Chris wanted to play on defense, we’re going to give him a shot there,” he said. “I think he can be a good player for us on either side of the ball, but that’s where he wants to be, and we’re going to give him a chance there.”
That’s two additions to the unit this offseason, because Ben Stille also transitioned from outside linebacker over winter conditioning. The two in-state players add different body types — Stille is 6-foot-5 and about 280 pounds, while Walker is listed at 6-8 and 275 — to a unit that’s shaping up to be one of the roster’s deepest.
Day Two 'a little sloppier': Frost said the team’s first practice back after spring break was a good one, but not quite as sharp as Day One.
“A little sloppier, sometimes you kind of expect that after spring break, but that’s not the standard we want to hold ourselves to,” he said. “Every time we’re on the field, we want to be better than the time before. We set a new standard every time we’re on the field and we’re competing against ourselves to beat that the next time.
“We have a big challenge ahead of us on Thursday.”
Part of the issues stemmed from quarterback/center exchanges, Frost acknowledged. NU is working without both of its experienced starting centers as Michael Decker (knee) and Cole Conrad (shoulder) both recover from winter operations.
“That kind of goes with the territory, particularly when we’re practicing at the pace we’re practicing at,” Frost said of the missed snaps. “You’re getting down, getting set, snapping the ball, thinking about 100 things in a short amount of time. Mistakes will happen. We’ll coach these guys through that, and hopefully Thursday looks better than today.”
Jackson put on good weight over winter: Junior cornerback Lamar Jackson spoke at his usual fast pace Tuesday after practice, but also worked to catch his breath.
He called practice under the new staff, "a marathon. It moves fast. Super-fast. Everybody’s running around, running around, so you kind of have to think on your feet. It's on to the next play, no talking too much. You’ve got to just keep it flowing. Once you get into the flow and everything like that, everything gets OK."
Jackson, listed at 6-3, said he put on 8 pounds of muscle over winter conditioning and dropped his body fat from 11 percent to 9 percent.
Defensive back Williams brings versatility: Mid-year transfer defensive back Deontai Williams has been working with both the cornerbacks and the safeties, according to Jackson, but mostly as a safety.
"He’s a competitor," Jackson said of the Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College transfer. "He’s from Florida, they like to be physical. He’s going to be looking for the big hit and stuff like that, that’s how he’s coming. He coming fast, one speed.
"I like him as a player and as a guy. I’m excited to play with him."
Receiver Williams impresses Morgan: Senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan has a pretty good handle on the guys in his group and the traits those guys need to have to be successful in Nebraska’s new uptempo offense.
And while the Huskers have only gone through two practices this spring, Morgan was ready to compare juco transfer Mike Williams to one of NU’s most electric playmakers.
“He just has that speed and quickness, like a JD (Spielman)-type,” Morgan said Tuesday. “That just opens it up even more.”
Williams, listed at 5-10 and 175 pounds, certainly is similar physically to Spielman, who stands 5-9 and weighs 180 pounds. Spielman last season set the NU record for receiving yards in a game with his 11-catch, 200-yard performance against Ohio State.
Williams proved to be a big play threat last season at East Mississippi, much like Spielman. After taking a redshirt, Spielman last season caught 55 passes for 830 yards and two touchdowns. Williams, meanwhile, caught 30 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017 as East Mississippi went 11-1 and won the NJCAA national title.
The Florida native has two seasons of eligibility remaining after joining Nebraska in January.