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Life in the Red: Chinander wishes Gifford had one more year at Nebraska

Life in the Red: Chinander wishes Gifford had one more year at Nebraska

Michigan State vs. Nebraska, 11.17

Luke Gifford takes in Memorial Stadium one last time after the victory over Michigan State in November.

Luke Gifford's professional career is off to a promising start. 

The Lincoln Southeast grad and former Nebraska outside linebacker is turning heads as an undrafted free agent linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys. 

The coming weeks are critical to any player trying to crack an NFL roster, particularly UDFAs like Gifford, but he appears to be at least in consideration for a roster spot at this point. 

Case in point: Gifford, according to Todd Archer of ESPN, has been getting repetitions with the Cowboys' No. 1 units on special teams including the punt coverage unit. NFL teams aren't going to mess around on the No. 1 line with players they don't feel can contribute. 

Not surprisingly, Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is happy to see Gifford making a run at a spot. 

"I always thought, selfishly, I kind of wish we could have found a way to get him a medical redshirt or did something, put him in a different number," Chinander said of Gifford on Monday. "I would have loved to have him for another year, because his best football’s ahead of him."

Gifford missed the back part of his junior year in 2017 with a hip injury that eventually required surgery, then missed spring ball while he rehabilitated. That meant a reduced workload for several months while other players made big physical gains under NU's new strength and conditioning staff.

"He’s a really, really good football player that had some unfortunate injuries," Chinander said. "He understands the game, he’s physical, he can play a lot of positions, he’s a great human being.

"To me, we were not going to the best football out of him because he was recovering from that injury. His best football is down the road and I think he’ll have a nice career as an NFL player." 

Contact the writer at 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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