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Spring post-op: Martinez is QB1, but NU quarterback room has some work to do this summer

Spring post-op: Martinez is QB1, but NU quarterback room has some work to do this summer

From the Spring post-op: Catch up on our position-by-position look at where the Huskers stand after spring series
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Red-White Spring Game, 5.1

Nebraska quarterbacks Logan Smothers (center left) and Heinrich Haarberg (center right) walk along the sideline during the Red-White Spring Game on May 1 at Memorial Stadium.

Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett talk about the lull in the college football world before a wild June of recruiting visits and workouts begins. In baseball, Spencer Schwellenbach is rising up MLB Draft boards while the Huskers found out Friday that they will not play host to a regional in the NCAA Tournament. 

With spring ball in the rearview mirror, Nebraska rolls into the summer having answered some questions over the course of its 15 spring practices and with some still remaining.

Where does each position stand heading into the summer? The Journal Star is looking at one a day.

The series continues this week and we kick things off with the quarterbacks.

Today: Quarterbacks

Tuesday: Running backs

Wednesday: Wide receivers

Thursday: Tight ends

Friday: Offensive line

Saturday: Offensive depth chart projection

What we learned

Starter Adrian Martinez looks good, feels good and impressed his coaches and teammates alike this spring. Martinez trimmed down to 213 pounds — he said he’ll be a couple of pounds lighter than in 2020 and more like 10-15 lighter than in 2019 — and said he felt an extra step’s worth of burst when running the football. We also learned Martinez likes the group of receivers he’s throwing to, and offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said Martinez’s accuracy has reached a new level.

Behind Martinez, we learned a critical piece of the puzzle as well: Coach Scott Frost feels good enough about the depth behind Martinez that he doesn’t think the Huskers have to take a transfer this summer.

What we didn’t

Exactly what order those players behind Martinez will line up in. Logan Smothers, Heinrich Haarberg and walk-on Matt Masker each have strengths and limitations at this point, and the competition for the No. 2 job will continue into fall camp.

Standout player

It’s got to be Martinez. He’s the clear-cut starter and by all accounts he had a good spring.

The proof is going to be in the pudding, of course, but Frost and Lubick see a big jump in production coming for the Fresno, California, native. The key, as it’s been in the past with Martinez, is going to be whether he’s able to better protect the ball.


Haarberg. The freshman from Kearney Catholic is making the jump from C-1 football to the Big Ten, but is learning the system and has impressed the staff with his pure arm talent.

“He made a few throws during spring that everybody kind of turned and looked at each other,” Frost said last week.

Summer to-do list

Get at least one of the three guys behind Martinez — but preferably more — to a place where Nebraska can win a game without its starter if need be.

For Haarberg, that means continuing to learn the system. For Smothers, that means getting comfortable with mechanical changes. For Masker, that means steadiness and continuing to master the system.

Parker Gabriel

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


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Husker football reporter

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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