Nebraska’s season opener may be more than two months away, but Jack Stoll is already thinking about gamedays.
In particular, the manner in which he does not want them to end.
“I don’t want to go back home on eight Saturday nights with a loss again, because that’s just unacceptable,” the junior tight end said during an interview on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program Thursday night. “That’s motivated us all to go out and give it our all every single day. That’s just unacceptable. We want to win a Big Ten championship here. …
“That’s just something that we all kind of use as fuel. If you’re struggling with a rep, I know I personally think back to all those losses and let that motivate you.”
Stoll is the elder statesman at a position that enters 2019 with sizable expectations. Sean Beckton’s group returns all of its major contributors and will be together for two more seasons with Stoll, sophomores Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal, and redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone filling out the current two-deep.
A year ago, the group showed some potential but overall had relatively modest numbers, combining for 28 catches, 374 yards and three touchdowns. Of those totals, Stoll accounted for 21, 245 and all three scores.
“I didn’t come to Nebraska to win four games. I came to Nebraska to contend for Big Ten championships and beyond,” he said. “It’s one of those deals where I’m just really excited. (The tight ends are) going to be out there and we’re going to do a lot more to help the team win. That’s awesome and that’s our goal is for the coaches to realize that we have a bunch of playmakers in that tight end room and we want to use them to help this team win a Big Ten championship.”
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For Stoll and the Huskers, most of the progress on that front comes in the weight room. Nebraska’s added most of its freshman class to summer conditioning workouts so far. In a couple of weeks, The Program returns to campus, led by former Marine Force Reconnaissance platoon commander Eric Kapitulik.
“You never get used to these metabolic workouts that we’re doing, but it’s one of those deals where you train your mind to say, ‘Hey, this is to help us get better,’ and you go in and attack it every single day. It’s one of those deals where we know what to expect and we know what’s expected from us, specifically, from (head strength coach Zach) Duval, and we’re just going to go in there and attack it. Everyone’s turning into loving the weight room because it shows on the field.”
Stoll is part of an offense that is heavy on underclassmen. It’s possible, as head coach Scott Frost has referenced several times, that nearly every offensive starter or major contributor will be part of Nebraska’s offense in both 2019 and 2020. Stoll, though, doesn’t want to wait any longer to compete for much bigger prizes.
“To do that, that means we have to grind in the weight room harder than anyone else, and I think we’ve done a great job of doing that to this point,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to do that. We’ve got to be bigger, faster, stronger and also we have to start carrying ourselves with confidence, and you’re starting to see that with some guys. In 7-on-7, specifically, some guys are walking around and just carrying themselves with confidence. They’re not being cocky about it, but I want players that are going to go out there and be confident. I don’t want somebody that’s going to be timid at all. That’s something that we’re starting to develop, and I think that’s something the strength program has really helped with.”