Tommy Armstrong Jr. has made major strides in his overall ability to lead.
By Randy York
Since UNL Spring Break gives Nebraska players this week off before returning to the rigor of spring practice, it’s time to remind Big Red football fans that more than 37,000 tickets have been sold for the annual Red-White Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, at 2 p.m. If that doesn’t entice you to buy your Spring Game tickets online now, The N-Sider has six quick reasons designed to spur you on and take care of business ASAP. It’s our way to help you do what Larry the Cable Guy always does … Git’R’Done! Check out our Pick 6 and then reserve your seats to put you where the action is. Please consider:
REASON NO. 1: Get an up-close view of the continued development of Tommy Armstrong Jr., who led Nebraska to six wins in the seven games he started last season at quarterback, including the 24-19 win over SEC power Georgia in Jacksonville’s TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. There’s a nice bonus to Reason 1 – a good chance to offer up your personal views on three other promising quarterback candidates – Johnny Stanton, Ryker Fyfe, and Zack Darlington.
REASON NO. 2: The Spring Game will be your first chance to see talented Husker scholarship players who have lived in the anonymity of a redshirt season. That group includes Adam Taylor, the highly touted 6-foot-2, 210-pound redshirt freshman running back from Katy, Texas. In his senior season in high school, Taylor rushed for 2,754 yards and 45 touchdowns to lead his team to a 16-0 record and Class 5A Division 2 state championship. In the state title victory over Cedar Hill at Cowboys Stadium, Taylor ran 30 times for 276 yards and five touchdowns. He was the state MVP and the Houston Chronicle’s Offensive Player of the Year. Among his dozens of scholarship offers were Alabama, national champion Florida State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Wisconsin. Ask last year’s Blackshirts how hard it was to tackle Taylor in practice. Ask his teammates who is ready to emerge immediately from the shadows of a redshirt season on the Scout Team. Adam Taylor may be worth a Spring Game ticket by himself.
REASON NO. 3: Maybe this should be Reason No. 1 because running backs depend on whoever is up front and the Spring Game will be a perfect time to see the new look in the offensive line after it lost five seniors to graduation. Two or three names keep popping up, but I’m not smart enough to know what offensive linemen are ahead of others. Three words, however, capture the essence of what coaches are envisioning about the rebuilding process – young but talented.
REASON NO. 4: Speaking of young but talented. What about Vincent Valentine, Maliek Collins, and Greg McMullen in the defensive line? Even Bo Pelini can’t help using superlatives when he describes where Nebraska was a year ago and where the Huskers are now in the defensive trenches. Valentine is a 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle from Edwardsville, Ill. Collins is a 6-foot-2, 300-pound sophomore defensive tackle from Center High School in Kansas City, Mo. McMullen is a 6-foot-3, 280-pound sophomore from Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio. McMullen turned down offers from Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame, among others. Collins, an athlete that Pelini mentions in the same sentence with an Outland Trophy winner he once coached in the SEC, was also a successful and agile heavyweight wrestler. Valentine rejected dozens of scholarship offers, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa.
REASON NO. 5: Talk about talent, depth, and sheer athleticism. Nebraska’s linebacker corps includes so many returnees and promising newcomers, it would be a disservice to mention anyone specifically. Let the grind of daily workouts determine who ends up where. Just make sure you isolate and focus on some linebackers in the Spring Game. You will develop a whole new appreciation for the annual pursuit of wearing a Blackshirt.
REASON NO. 6: This is a teaser, not a fact. We all know what happened in the fourth quarter of the 2013 Spring Game – Jack Hoffman’s record-setting 69-yard touchdown that was seen across the country and around the world. No. 6 in our Pick 6 is a bit of mystery designed to spur all Husker fans to quit putting off the purchase of a Spring Game ticket. The coaches are one-for-one in creative thinking and high drama. Whatever surprise wrinkles they come up with in the weeks ahead is worth buying a ticket for, not to mention staying in your seat until the overall performance is over. P.S. It’s easier, faster and better to buy your tickets online. However, if you have a child who will be taking the drug-free, alcohol-free pledge at halftime, you will need to work directly with the Nebraska Ticket Office regarding a complimentary seat. All tickets in Memorial Stadium are reserved. None are general admission.
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