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Huskers fall practice, Day 5, 8/8

Nebraska defensive back Cam'ron Jones prepares to run through a drill during practice Aug. 8 at Hawks Championship Center.

In the second year of the NCAA’s early signing period for football, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said the player pool changed dramatically compared with last year.

“Last year, there was quite a bit of really good players still available after the first signing day,” Frost said. “This year, there weren’t near as many (remaining) and the guys that were got recruited by everybody.”

To wit, Nebraska hosted seven official visitors in January but signed just one. One remains unsigned and the other five went to Oregon, LSU, TCU, UCLA and Kansas.

“We did our best to get to know some guys and take some looks at some guys that we thought might still be able to help at certain positions, but we weren’t going to reach and take guys just to take them,” Frost said.

The second-year Husker coach said he thinks teams will continue to try to sign almost-full classes in December and then, ideally, try to just find the cherries on top come January.

“You better have the guys in the boat that you really want -- with a few spots in your back pocket -- if you’re doing it right,” he said.

Three spots left: Nebraska has three scholarships remaining that it can fill between now and the fall.

Those will go toward exploring graduate transfer options and also keeping a keen eye on the ever-growing list of names in the NCAA’s new transfer database.

“For us, it’s got to be the right kid,” Frost said. “It’s got to be someone that’s going to fit on our team and it’s somebody that’s talented enough to help us. We’ll certainly keep our eye on that and we have some flexibility to take one or two of those if the situation arises.”

Rounding out the numbers: Nebraska also has 13 official visits remaining after using 43 in the cycle to date. Visits reset at the end of the summer, meaning the Huskers will use what’s left for an early round of 2020 official visitors.

Expect the lion’s share of those to take place in June, either in conjunction with Friday Night Lights camps or as their own standalone visit-heavy weekends.

Healthy returns: The Husker coaching staff lamented during the 2018 season that a big chunk of its freshman class dealt with serious injuries.

Frost on Wednesday said that much of that heralded group — including defensive linemen Tate Wildeman (knee) and Casey Rogers (shoulder), defensive back Cam’ron Jones (shoulder) and center Cameron Jurgens (foot) — are all taking part in winter conditioning and should be ready for spring ball.

“Man, those guys are going to make a difference in the team if they can approach this in the right way,” Frost said.

Defensive back C.J. Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in October, so he’ll be further behind.

“I called them the ‘black sweatshirt posse’ because they all sat on the same place on the wall during practice, wearing the same hooded sweatshirt,” Frost said. “Usually, the same one I had on so I went over and joined them from time to time. Those guys are driven. …

“There are some really talented kids and I would get a little upset looking over at how much talent we had sitting on the wall. It was kind of just an unfortunate set of circumstances for those kids. That is going to be almost like getting four or five or six more recruits in this class and guys that already have experience with our team. So, I am anxious to put all those pieces together.”

One other injury note: Junior receiver JD Spielman, who missed the Huskers’ final two games, is recovered from a high-ankle sprain.

Spring game ticket update: Tickets to see the Huskers in the Red-White Spring Game are going fast.

An NU official indicated that more than 24,000 tickets were sold to the general public on Wednesday, one day after season-ticket holders got the first crack.

As of 5 p.m., approximately 7,000 spots for the April 13 scrimmage remained.

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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