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More on bringing back the freshman locker room

CHICAGO – Earlier this month we wrote about Nebraska bringing back a form of the old freshman locker room.

NU has always had two locker rooms since moving over to the North Stadium. The main locker room and an auxiliary locker room. It used to be no matter what, all scholarship players got a spot in the main locker room, and only walk-ons would have to use the auxiliary locker room.

Over the course of this summer, head coach Scott Frost changed that approach. All scholarship and walk-on newcomers that arrived in May and June were sent to the auxiliary locker room. It didn’t matter if you were a highly ranked recruit coming in on scholarship, you still had to earn a spot in the main locker room.

It’s a spinoff of how it used to be in the Tom Osborne era where the main locker room was in the South Stadium, while the freshmen were over in the north Schulte Field House locker room.

“When I was in college, we had a freshman locker room and the main locker room, and it meant a lot when you came up there,” Frost said. “That was part of the discussion that, to be honest with you, a little bit it was a necessity because we don’t have enough space in our locker room. If we’re growing the roster, we don’t have enough space in our meeting room, if we’re growing the roster, so we got to be smart about how we do that.”

The other thing that went behind the decision was making sure players earn what they get. In Frost’s program, nothing will be handed to you.

“Nebraska football players in general can be entitled sometimes because of all the things you get for being a Nebraska football player,” Frost said. “I don’t think it’s healthy just to have things handed to you. It makes you better if you have to learn a lot of those things.”

New nutritionist Dave Ellis will office close to the auxiliary locker room right next to strength coach Zach Duval in the weight room.

When told about how Frost changed the culture with the incoming players, he loved the idea. It reminded of him how things used to be at Nebraska in the 80’s and 90’s.

“I haven't walked in it yet but if there's soap in the soap dispensers that might be more than we had back in the day,” Ellis joked. “There was a grumpy equipment guy over there that you didn't want to have to get a towel from him. (Laughter)

“It's a good concept, it really is. I'm telling you. When I used to see these recruits for Coach Osborne, I would say, ‘This is a great place to come if you like to work but if that isn't what you're all about, you're not willing to try to outwork the competition and hold throughout the deal, then you don't want to come to Nebraska.’”

And really it’s about the culture Frost wants to build. In the grand scheme of things keeping the freshmen and newcomers together in one locker room should help the team build a tighter bond.

It puts the scholarship and walk-on newcomers on an equal playing field.

“Honestly, when I was a freshman it was scholarship in the main locker room and then walk-ons in the auxiliary locker room,” senior defensive lineman Mick Stoltenberg said. “I think it's good, not that I have a feel really for what it's like in there, but I think it's a good idea to keep all those guys together just, so they can grow as a class.

“Everyone starts small and then you earn what you get and everything like that. I think that's a good idea.

Senior offensive lineman Jerald Foster is also a fan of the new set-up, as he think it makes sense not to just hand incoming freshmen everything right away.

“Well they shouldn't be with us anyway,” Foster joked. “They need to learn how to act. They need to learn how to act before they can come down and talk to us. I would say that's really good. In Nebraska, in the past there's never been a separation between scholarship and walk-on guys, we all get there the same time and we all go through the same grind. At least for our class, I've never seen a real spread of it but I do understand when we did get there and they put the scholarship guys in the good locker room and then they put walk-on's in the auxiliary, there was a separation in the sense of that.

“Keep them all together. They can stay away and they can make messes in the other room and then learn how to clean up after themselves and they come sit with us.”