Final take: More than just a scrimmage
If they were to sell t-shirts at Saturday's Nebraska Red-White spring game, they might have said: "I was at the 2019 Husker football reunion."
I don't know what it is about NU's Red-White game, but it has turned into so much more than the 15th spring practice.
The Red-White spring game has turned into a day to celebrate Nebraska football. A day to show the nation why Husker fans proudly call themselves the nation's best.
It's become a day for former players to come back to Lincoln and catch-up on old times. Incoming freshmen to come to campus one more time before starting their Husker careers in June.
It's a day that showcases everything that's good about Nebraska Athletics and this state in general. And for head coach Scott Frost he's glad his current team is getting a taste of that.
“I’ve seen some guys that I haven’t seen in two decades," Frost said on Saturday. "Michael Booker just grabbed me on the way off the field, and obviously he was a big part of a lot of really good teams around here. I haven’t seen him in years. I saw Erick Strickland yesterday. I haven’t seen him in years. Guys that it’s special for me to see because they are a part of this brotherhood.
"I love having those guys back. One, I care about them, and they care about me. I also like to see those guys back and see what it means to be a Husker football player and see how it goes with you your whole life and see how the fans still know who you are. There really is no place like Nebraska as far as that goes. If you’re a great player here, people are going to remember you the rest of your life, and those guys are still pulling for those guys playing today. It’s awesome to kind of continue that fraternity and have the guys come back and teach this group what it’s supposed to look like.”
As for on the field, Frost's team heads into the summer with a lot of momentum. There's a fairly good chance they could find themselves in some preseason top 25 polls, despite their 4-8 record in 2018.
You can't draw very many significant conclusions from Saturday's Red-White spring game, other than this program is on solid footing heading into Frost's second season at NU.
"We took a big step here in the spring, and summer is going to be so important for us," sophomore tight end Austin Allen said. "We already know our schedule for the summer, and we already know we have to get our work done we left here in the spring. We took a big step in the spring, and we'll take another step this summer. We'll take it step by step until we get there."
WHAT I SAW ON SATURDAY
***Nebraska drew 85,946 for their annual Red-White spring game. That number was slightly down from last year's 86,818, but still should be good for the nation's largest crowd for the second year in a row.
In Comparison, Oklahoma drew 50,228, Alabama 62,219, Ohio State 61,102 and Florida 39,476. North Carolina, who welcomed new head coach Mack Brown back on Saturday drew just 1,568.
***Major props to the folks at Husker Vision for putting together one of the best Tunnel Walk tributes I've seen. They highlighted all the flooding and hardship the state has gone through the last month and showed how it brought everyone together. It was a very moving tribute to everyone that's been affected by the floods in our state.
***We saw Adrian Martinez for 23 plays and five series on Saturday. There was no point in playing him more than that. There's no question in my mind that Martinez will be the first underclassmen captain in the Osborne-Solich-Frost tree of coaches at Nebraska. None of those coaches had underclassmen captains. I think that's going to change this year.
***It's hard to know what Alex Davis is going to be able to provide for Nebraska in 2019, but he took a significant step forward this year and the strength and conditioning staff has gotten him to buy in.
***There may be new receiver blood coming into this program the next few years, but Kade Warner is not going anywhere. He arguably made one of the better plays of the day on his 57-yard reception from Martinez.
***Defensive lineman Darrion Daniels is better than any of the defensive linemen the Huskers had a year ago, and all of those guys have also taken a big step forward this off-season.
***It looks like Marquel Dismuke is finally ready to take a step forward. He had a nice interception on Saturday and goes into the summer as one of NU's starting safeties.
***The center and guard positions still are a big question heading into August. Will NU try to find another body to bring into camp?
***I love what Luke McCaffery showed on Saturday. He's got a burst of speed at the quarterback position that makes him look like a couple of other guys that used to wear No. 7.
***I liked how Noah Vedral looked during his time at quarterback. He looked comfortable out there and I think he enters the off-season as the No. 2, but McCaffery is right on his heels. The quarterback position is in a great place heading into 2019.
***Props to NU Associate AD and Facilities Director Butch Hug, Husker Vision's Shot Kleen and photographer Richard Voges.
All three of them worked their final event for Nebraska on Saturday. Hug has directed NU's event staff and facilities for 38 years. Kleen has been with Husker Vision since they opened their doors in 1994 and Vogus has served as NU's in-house photographer since 1960. All three are stand-up gentlemen that have devoted most of their lives to making Husker events better fan experiences for all.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Tuesday's at 7 pm.