Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 10.16

Nebraska coach Scott Frost (right) talks with Husker offensive coordinator Matt Lubick (left) and Mario Verduzco during pregame warmups before taking on Minnesota on Oct. 16 at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

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Beginning with the starting QB, Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel discuss four Husker notes Monday at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska coaches hit the road over the bye week and got out on the recruiting trail for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020.

Head coach Scott Frost saw Lincoln Southeast — featuring 2022 verbal commit Jake Appleget, 2023 verbal commit Gunnar Gottula and '23 target Teitum Tuioti — take on an Elkhorn South team that has '23 target Maverick Noonan, among others, on Friday night.

Overall, Frost said Monday that he was encouraged by what his staff heard and reported back to him from being back on the road.

“The response was awesome. I was just talking to Barrett Ruud about it this morning," Frost said. "He stuck mostly local in recruiting, but the response they got from coaches and administrators and students, I think people are enjoying watching this team, I think they’re proud of this team. We’ve got to get it over the hump, but I was really encouraged to hear the response and reaction that coaches said they got on the road.”

Nebraska has eight verbal pledges for the 2022 class so far and is likely to take somewhere between 13-15 high school players. The rest of the class will be made up of junior college guys and transfer portal additions. A couple of NU assistants, including defensive line coach Tony Tuioti, were out at jucos in Kansas.

“Really tough recruiting without being able to go out and evaluate and get in front of coaches and get into high schools, so we needed this and it was a good first step,” Frost said.

Fidone working his way back: Freshman tight end Thomas Fidone was cleared to rejoin practice as the Huskers got ready for Minnesota earlier this month, but he’s still got work to do to get back into position to potentially play for Nebraska after suffering an ACL injury in April.

“I’m really excited about Thomas. He’s still shaking a little bit of rust off. He’s missed a lot of reps with the stuff that we’re doing,” Frost said. “When he’s ready to play and gives us as good or better chance to win as the other guys, he’ll be out there. He’s got a really bright future and we’ll see how quick that comes.”

The Council Bluffs, Iowa, native can play in up to four games and still preserve his redshirt, but his position group is also one of the deepest on NU’s roster, so it’s no guarantee he’ll jump right into the rotation.

Williams a question mark: Frost didn’t have much of an update on sixth-year safety Deontai Williams, who suffered a knee injury against Minnesota that the head coach deemed “minor” last week.

Frost, though, didn’t sound particularly confident that Williams would be back this weekend against Purdue.

“Deontai will be back this season. I don’t know when,” Frost said.

“You always want to have everybody up when you’re playing a team like this that is going to throw a lot of stuff at you,” the head coach added. “You have to be ready and you have to be disciplined.”

Myles Farmer is next in line at safety and other young players could also potentially factor in.

Buford impressing: One of those young secondary players that could see increased time this week is freshman Marques Buford Jr., who’s played extensively on special teams and for most of the season has been Nebraska’s fourth cornerback behind Cam Taylor-Britt, Quinton Newsome and Braxton Clark.

“He’s doing well. He’s one of those kids that came in mature and ready to attack,” Frost said. “I always say that’s the mark of a freshman that’s going to play early. It isn’t necessarily talent, it’s how quickly they grow up and become adults and good teammates and do little things right and he came in that way. I’m excited about him right now and in the future."

New name on depth chart: A new week brought a new name to the Nebraska depth chart: Sophomore walk-on Ian Boerkircher is now listed as Nebraska's No. 2 right tackle behind Bryce Benhart.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Aurora native is the older brother of NU tight end, Nate, and spent one season at Division II Nebraska-Kearney before matriculating to Lincoln last year.

Now, he's apparently worked himself to a spot in which he can contribute.

"He’s done a lot. He’s come to me once or twice a week: 'Hey, what can I be doing, what should I be doing,' and I’ll tell him what he needs to do, and he’s been working his butt off," said Nebraska's starting left tackle, Turner Corcoran.

Boerkircher's ascension up the depth chart coincides with the return of Brant Banks, listed as a left guard after missing time with a hand injury. Banks started at left tackle against Illinois.

“Brant’s back. That’s good. Always good to have more guys that have played and can do it," Frost said. "We’ll see where he factors in going down the stretch."

— Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett

 

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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