Player safety and well-being remain Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s biggest concern during the COVID-19 shutdown
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Player safety and well-being remains Frost’s biggest concern

A lot has changed in the country over the last two weeks.

The Nebraska football team went from conducting its second practice of the spring on Mar. 11, to having things indefinitely shutdown by Mar. 12. Talking publicly for the first time since the nationwide COVID-19 stoppage, NU head coach Scott Frost finds himself like a lot of Americans.

“We are like everybody else,” Frost said Tuesday night on the Husker Sports Network. “We are frustrated and concerned, and a little bit bored and anxious to get back to a normal state of affairs and our regular lives. Everybody’s safety and well-being is the most important thing, and we are dealing with it like everybody else.”

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and his staff have daily meetings on Zoom right now.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and his staff have daily meetings on Zoom right now. (Nate Clouse)

Frost said things happened so fast over the last two weeks, but he feels like they have continued to handle the situation in a proper manner.

However, telling his football team to basically go home and shut things down was not an easy conversation.

“We actually went in the indoor (facility) and spread everybody out to kind of obey the social distancing order and kind of gave our guys a tentative game plan,” Frost said. “Things seemed to be changing every 24 to 48 hours, but hopefully, at some point, we are going to get the guys back on campus.

“Their safety and health is our No. 1 concern. Getting them back so they can at least focus on academics and making sure their grades are right with online courses is important. We are kind of in a holding pattern right now but trying to communicate with our kids as well as we can, and keeping them happy and healthy.”

That means arguably the two most important people Frost leans on for guidance are nutritionist Dave Ellis and Executive Associate AD for Academics Dennis Leblanc.

Both Ellis and Leblanc have been doing an outstanding job making sure the right things are in place from both nutrition and academic standpoints, despite the campus-wide UNL shutdown.

“At Nebraska, we tell our recruits and players that Nebraska has always been about developing student-athletes and people better than anybody else,” Frost said. “We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have the best of the best. Dave Ellis and Dennis Leblanc are the best at what they do in the country.

“We are leaning heavily on those guys right now. We have quite a few kids that are still here in town. Honestly, it’s probably safer for them here than going home, or they had rehab to do. We have quite a few kids still in town, but not a huge part of the team. We need to be able to take care of those guys. Dave has done a good job in making sure the meals continue. Our guys are getting grab-and-go’s, so they aren’t around each other to eat. So, they are social distancing, but still getting the nutrition they need.

Nebraska nutritionist Dave Ellis and his staff continue to provide meal services for NU's student-athletes.
Nebraska nutritionist Dave Ellis and his staff continue to provide meal services for NU's student-athletes. (Nate Clouse)

“Dennis is going to be a huge part of what we are doing going forward, because if classes are online, he’s going to have to continue with his team tutoring and mentoring our student-athletes in the classroom probably remotely, making sure we are staying ahead on our academics. Those are two big roles and we’ve got the right guys to make sure that those wheels are turning.”

Even Frost and his coaching staff have had to change how they meet during this time.

Just like schools and offices across the country, NU is relying on virtual meeting software like Zoom to conduct day-to-day business.

“We just got off a Zoom call,” Frost said. “We have one every day. We are really trying to turn our attention to recruiting. It’s going to be a big hiccup in this recruiting cycle without being able to have kids officially on campus. We are trying to figure out if we are going to lose our entire spring recruiting and if our coaches will go out or not. We are burning up the phone lines and trying to talk to 2021 recruits about the great things about Nebraska and trying to get ahead on recruits with the 2022 and 2023 classes.”

And as Frost said, the problems around the state and the world for that matter are much bigger than football.

Frost said on Tuesday he's proud of Nebraskans for doing their part and taking the protective measures put in place by Gov. Pete Ricketts seriously.

“You know how much Nebraska means to me, and talking to Gov. Ricketts hearing how much better shape we are in then some of the places around the country, it really has to do with our leadership and also just the quality of people in Nebraska,” Frost said.

“We are talking a lot about football problems, but there are bigger problems out there. People that aren’t going to work, that aren’t getting paychecks that are laid off. Nebraska people all need to rally around each other and be supportive of people that are really in need. We are looking for opportunities as a football team to do that too. I know there are people with much bigger problems than what we have. Hopefully, we all do what we are supposed to do so we can all get back to normal.”