Players-only workout highlights change in NU's culture
While the majority of Nebraska’s student body was enjoying its week off over spring break, Damian Jackson wasn't about to let the Husker football team go on a full-on vacation.
Shortly after NU held its final practice before break on March 15, the sophomore defensive lineman and former Navy SEAL sent out a mass text message to all of his teammates telling them to be ready to get back to work earlier than usual.
“Damian Jackson actually sent out a mass text saying, ‘Hey, we were 4-8 last year. We don’t have the luxury to enjoy a full spring break, so make sure you guys cut it off halfway through the week then get back early so we can get in some good work,’” said senior defensive lineman Darrion Daniels.
“Coming back, I felt like it was really huge for us to knock off some rust. We came and got a good lift in. Linemen, we went and did some drills. Skill, they went and did 7-on-7. I felt like it was pretty good for us because when we got into Monday it was just rolling like we never left.”
It may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of the season, but Jackson and several other veteran leaders who helped organize the workout showed how much Nebraska’s culture had changed since head coach Scott Frost and his staff arrived a little more than a year ago.
That impromptu Sunday session, which the coaches were not allowed to attend per NCAA rules, set the tone for one of the best Monday practices after spring break that Frost and Co. had seen in a long time.
“I wasn’t just happy, I was thrilled with how the guys came back,” Frost said. “There’s a hundred different things that can happen on spring break, we all know that. They came back ready to practice… We had an intense, fast practice on Monday, and it looked like they hadn’t left or missed a step.
“That’s a sign of a mature team that’s starting to make decisions based on what’s best for the team instead of what’s best for them.”
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander agreed.
“I think that’s a huge step in the maturity of our team,” Chinander said. “We came back on Monday, and a lot of times that’s a throwaway practice, to be honest with you. And it wasn’t. It was a really good practice… I thought it was a huge step in the right direction.”