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Red-White Spring Game, 4/21/18

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost watches the action on the field during the first half on Saturday in the Red-White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium.

Let’s take a midweek drive, shall we?

1. Nebraska’s made a couple of interesting legacy offers in recent days.

First came 2019 defensive back Javin Wright, a three-star prospect in Arizona and the son of former Cornhusker standout Toby Wright.

Javin is listed at 6-foot-3 while Toby, a second-round NFL draft pick in 1994, played at 5-11.

Expect the Wrights to try to get to campus sometime this summer. Javin has added several high-caliber offers in in the past month UCLA, Arizona State and Louisville in addition to NU.

Then on Tuesday, the Huskers offered several players at Narbonne High in the Los Angeles area, including Class of 2021 quarterback Jake Garcia. His dad, Randy, quarterbacked Nebraska in the mid-1970s. His tenure included leading a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to beat No. 14 North Carolina in December of 1977 in the Liberty Bowl, helping No. 12 Nebraska cap a 9-3 season.

In announcing his offer, the younger Garcia posted a couple of photos of himself as a kid at Memorial Stadium and around NU football and also a photo of his dad.

Of course, being a legacy recruit doesn’t automatically mean a kid will follow in a parent’s footsteps or that they will pan out, but it’s just another connection point for the coaching staff to pursue.

2. Wait, did you say 2021 recruit?

Yeah, Garcia and some of the other prospects offered at Narbonne – and at schools around the country for that matter – are just wrapping up their freshmen year of high school and are prepping for their sophomore football seasons in the fall.

If that seems a little ridiculous, well, it is, but that’s the way college football works. Scott Frost and company were behind the 8-ball in trying to reconstruct and fill out the 2018 recruitng class in two months when they arrived in Lincoln in December. They’ve intimated that they feel like they’re playing catch-up, too, with the 2019 class in terms of building relationships.

But that’s what this staff thinks one of its advantages will be in the long run. Not just the facilities and the program history and the explosive offense, but its ability to connect with players and build real relationships. Done right, that takes time. So, yeah, there’s a lot of projection built into evaluating kids that have three high school seasons left. Except for rare occasions, there’s no way to tell for sure what kind of players they will turn into. But for a staff that wants to build and capitalize with longstanding relationships, it does make sense.

3. We won’t write about Joe Burrow every day. Promise.

All signs point to Nebraska sticking with the quarterback group it has and not pursuing the Ohio State graduate transfer.

But his family’s Nebraska connections make it a point of intrigue, so let’s take a look at a couple of natural spots he could wind up choosing besides the Huskers. He’s certain to have no shortage of options.

Andy Staples reported Tuesday night that LSU and Cincinnati already have permission to contact Burrow. The Bearcats are interesting, of course, because they are close to home. Not only that, but former Buckeyes defensive coordinator and head coach Luke Fickell is the second-year head coach there.

At LSU, Burrow would have a familiar face in Pender native and Nebraska Wesleyan graduate Bill Busch, who’s the Tigers’ safeties coach. Busch was on staff at NU from 2004-07. That's after after Jimmy Burrow left, but crosses over with Dan Burrow’s playing career.

While Joe Burrow will likely have plenty of Power Five attention, don’t undersell the connections at Wyoming. Head coach Craig Bohl, of course, moved from Nebraska to North Dakota State after the 2003 season and Jimmy Burrow went with him to be the defensive coordinator.

Additionally, now-Cowboys quarterbacks coach Brent Vigen was at NDSU for 16 seasons and followed Bohl to Wyoming. He’s worked with quarterbacks like Brock Jensen (three-time FCS national title winner for the Bison), Carson Wentz (No. 2 overall pick in 2016) and Josh Allen (No. 7 pick this season). You don’t get to be called a “quarterback whisperer” for no reason.

Burrow will have options, but those three have built-in connections.

4. Speaking of quarterbacks, Athalon put out a list in which it ranks starting quarterbacks No. 1-130 in the FBS for 2018.

Now, the caveats are clear. Namely: Not nearly every team knows who its starting quarterback is going to be this fall.

But hey, it’s May. 

Here’s a look at where NU’s 12 opponents fall on the list. Remember: Not all of these players will necessarily win/keep starting jobs.

Akron: 81, Kato Nelson

Troy: 102, Kaleb Barker

Colorado: 53, Steven Montez

Michigan: 15, Shea Patterson

Purdue: 44, David Blough

Wisconsin: 25, Alex Hornibrook

Northwestern: 37, Clayton Thorson

Minnesota: 93, Tanner Morgan

Ohio State: 28, Dwayne Haskins

Illinois: 116 (yuck), Cam Thomas

Michigan State: 12, Brian Lewerke

Iowa: 27, Nate Stanley

For what it’s worth, Athalon has Husker freshman Adrian Martinez at No. 68.

Other interesting positions: The Huskers faced a bunch of good quarterbacks in 2017 and all of them shredded NU. Some, like J.T. Barrett, are gone but several others returned. Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen is No. 21, Oregon’s Justin Herbert is No. 8 and Penn State’s Trace McSorley is No. 3. Husker fans can breathe slightly easier knowing they don't have to see that trio.

UCF’s McKenzie Milton? No. 5.

5. Just because NU misses some top-flight quarterbacks, though, doesn’t mean the schedule is any easier.

We’ve all seen, heard and written about what a bear it is.

As strength-of-schedule predictions come out – another fickle proposition, admittedly -- that’s bearing out. Here’ just one example, from college football analyst Phil Steele.

He’s got NU facing the second-toughest slate in the nation, behind only Florida State.

6. A weekly baseball note to close it out.

James Paxton should have been hard-pressed to follow up a 16-strikeout performance last week. Instead, the Mariners lefty one-upped himself by no-hitting the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Not only that, but his last two pitches (Nos. 98 and 99 for the day) came in at 99.5 and 99 miles per hour. Not only that, but he did it on his native Canadian soil. Not only that, but his nickname is The Big Maple.

The Big Maple is awesome.

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

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Sports writer

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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