Nebraska football practice, 8/14

Nebraska defensive backs coach Travis Fisher watches players work out the details during practice at Hawks Championship Center on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.

No time like the present for a summer afternoon drive. 

1. Nebraska’s scrimmage Friday last week provided an opportunity for many young players as veterans and players who have established themselves as ready contributors were either held out or limited.

Among the standouts from the day: Redshirt freshman walk-on safety Isaiah Stalbird.

The Kearney native made the camp roster for the second straight summer and, according to secondary coach Travis Fisher, he’s made the most of round two.

“Stalbird has done a great job,” Fisher said Monday. “He’s a kid that, if I had to just look at him last year and evaluate him last year, was probably a kid that just wasn’t too sure about this and that, so he probably questioned himself a little bit.

“This camp, he’s jumped in the boat and he’s making improvement very fast. It starts by just watching the older guys, how they practice and buying into how they’re supposed to practice. Flying around to the football.”

With a bigger workload on Friday, the 6-foot, 200-pound Stalbird made a splash.

“We put him in situations to make some plays, now, so now he got a taste last scrimmage of making some plays by flying around,” Fisher said. "And now he’s really flying around. When you’ve got young guys that are flying around that fast on the football field, there’s a couple of things to that.

“First of all, he’s in the film room, so his confidence level is shooting out of the roof because he can see what he’s doing and so he can fly around. Then when he does fly around and he sees himself on the film making a play because he’s flying around, then he probably thinks, ‘Hey, man, I want to do that again. It didn’t hurt, I’m not tired, I have a bunch of energy.’ So he’s doing a great job."

2. Wednesday could be an active day in the world of Husker recruiting.

Nebraska is right in the mix for three-star running back Sevion Morrison (Tulsa, Oklahoma) who is set to announce his college choice on Wednesday afternoon. The recruiting prognosticators peg NU as the favorite to land Morrison, a physically impressive 6-foot and 200-pound back who put up monster numbers — 2,639 rushing yards (12.5 per carry) and 34 rushing touchdowns — during his junior year at Edison High in Tulsa.

Morrison officially visited Lincoln in June and has been a longtime target of NU running backs coach Ryan Held.

Morrison also has Arkansas, Washington, Missouri and Baylor among his finalists. 

Not only is Morrison set to announce his choice, but Florida running back Marvin Scott III (Port Orange, Florida) is trending the Huskers’ direction in the eyes of recruiting analysts and could be set to make an announcement on his choice in the near future, too.

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Scott (5-9, 205) also visited NU officially in June and is a football standout and weight-lifting champion at Spruce Creek High.

3. When BTN was on campus on Monday for Nebraska practice, there was a tweet that indicated that the Huskers had made a decision on freshman running back Ronald Thompkins (knee) and that Thompkins would “sit out this year.”

While that remains a possibility – Thompkins suffered two major knee injuries during an otherwise standout career at Grayson High in Georgia and has only practiced in a green non-contact jersey since being activated to the camp roster earlier this month – no decision has been made by NU on his status for the entire fall. It's premature to make a blanket call.

The plan remains the same: See how much progress Thompkins can make this fall and how close to game ready he can get. Held said last week he’s excited to see if Thompkins can help the Huskers this year and, while that’s not a sure bet and never has been, it’s still a possibility.

4. NU junior wide receiver JD Spielman joined the BTN show alongside quarterback Adrian Martinez and had an interesting take on the benefits of the work the Huskers have done in the weight room.

“A lot of us have got a lot more mentally and physically stronger and we can endure a lot more and the coaches can push us through a lot more,” Spielman said. “It’s allowing us to practice harder, get through minor injuries, things that would normally keep a lot of people out, we’re able to play through a lot of that stuff now.”

Spielman has played through a lot of aches and pains in his first two seasons – most players do to some extent – so he knows a thing or two about pushing through.

5. A keen observer may have noticed something the BTN cameras provided a glimpse of while in town: Redshirt freshman center Cameron Jurgens getting some work in at practice.

Jurgens has been limited through camp and,while there was no video of him working in live sessions, at least one camera caught him working one-on-one, driving his feet and making contact with a fellow offensive lineman in a drill. He also was in a walk-through rep with the rest of the No. 1 offensive line.

None of that necessarily means that Jurgens is necessarily ready for full work or has supplanted Will Farniok as the No. 1 center, but when offensive line coach Greg Austin said Jurgens was close to getting back in the mix last week, he clearly wasn’t kidding. Austin and the offensive coaches speak Wednesday, so the next update will be an intriguing one.

6. A couple of roster clean-up notes to close this out.

Among the players that have been added to the camp roster in the past week or so include York freshman walk-on offensive lineman Noah Stafursky and redshirt freshman walk-on tight end Bryson Krull. A couple have come off the roster due to injury like tackle Christian Gaylord, who Frost announced Friday will miss the season with a knee injury. Lincoln Southeast defensive lineman Chris Walker was also on crutches on Monday and not in uniform.

Also, Lincoln Southwest redshirt freshman walk-on linebacker Anthony Banderas and freshman walk-on receiver Riley Kinney (Loveland, Colorado) are no longer on the Huskers.com roster. There are currently 151 on the roster, including 82 scholarship players. The Huskers are expected to add at least one more walk-on – Colorado State transfer linebacker Zach Schlager – when classes begin Aug. 26.

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


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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