Erik Chinander’s trust is growing in Nebraska’s secondary.
The first-year defensive coordinator said as much Monday morning, and the post-practice media availability was dominated by talk of a position group that is trying to engineer a turnaround after a largely dismal 2017 campaign.
Among the most veteran members of that group — and the subject of perhaps more talk and criticism than anybody else — is junior cornerback Lamar Jackson.
The heralded recruit has had an up-and-down first two collegiate campaigns, but he’s been on the field a ton, starting 13 times and appearing in all 25 games of his career to date.
He’s going to be a key part of trying to make a big jump in Year 1 under Scott Frost, Chinander and secondary coach Travis Fisher.
So what’s different? That’s a question Jackson said he’s been asked many times in recent months.
“It’s really all mental,” he said. “It’s 90 percent mental and as I’m growing up and maturing, I’m really realizing that it’s all mental. There’s really not much that I’ve done to change my game, it’s really just knowing. Everything is slowing down, knowing what you can do and knowing how to make the plays and knowing where to be to make the play that you need to make. It’s mental. That’s how I see it.
“I’m just developing as a player up top.”
Jackson is the most experienced player among NU’s corners and, thus, is being asked to not only handle his own business but also help younger players along. The early returns are positive.
“Just the other day Coach Frost came up to me and gave me a compliment,” Jackson said. “He told me straight up, he said, ‘Whatever y’all doing, keep doing it. Make sure you keep doing what you’re doing and make sure you keep bringing guys with you.’ I respect that a lot and that also just gave me some acknowledgment that my work is paying off and my work is good. That’s just going to allow me to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to get better with the group.”