LINCOLN — Adrian Martinez should still be in high school. But there was the quarterback Tuesday morning inside the Hawks Center, holding court with a throng of reporters for 20 minutes with the kind of poise that helped make him Scott Frost’s top recruiting priority from the Class of 2018.
Does the freshman and early enrollee sense a pecking order developing at his position? It’s not his place to speculate, he said with a smile, and everyone is just competing right now. Has he been recognized around Lincoln yet? Yes, but that’s simply a sign of Nebraska fans’ devotion. How can the QBs be like family and also battle for the same job? “I think that just comes down to being a good person,” he responded while making eye contact with the questioner.
Martinez said he probably learned his mature demeanor from his parents, who always encouraged him to be social with kids and adults alike growing up. He credits his work ethic to his father, who manages a company in California after starting as a truck driver there without a college education.
Martinez wants to live up to that example. To build into something through commitment and passion.
“I’m in a blessed situation,” he said. “There’s all the resources in the world for me to be as good as I can be. I just gotta work for it.”
Frost said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Fresno product “is showing signs of being really talented,” adding that Martinez told him his arm is “about 90 percent” as he goes through spring practice following shoulder surgery that cost the four-star recruit his senior season at Clovis West High School. The accuracy is there. Now the strength needs to be built up as he — along with the rest of Nebraska’s quarterback contenders — continue to both learn the playbook and adjust to the tempo of the offense.
That learning curve is challenging, Martinez said, but he’s coming along. Quarterbacks in Frost’s system must process the signal from the sideline, then the play itself before observing what the defense is doing and deciding how they will adjust. All within about 10 seconds.
“There’s a lot of things that kind of run through your mind as that’s all taking place — and you gotta go fast,” Martinez said, snapping his fingers. “That’s the whole ‘processing it quickly’ because we’re trying to go as fast as we can.”
Martinez joked that the biggest adjustment of being in college has been the weather. Otherwise he continues to grind, knowing he has as good a chance as anyone of being Nebraska’s quarterback in the fall. But first he looks forward to showing a sellout Memorial Stadium crowd what he can do in a couple of weeks.
“I’ve thought about that a lot of times, actually,” Martinez said. “I’d say it’s a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll give me a little bit of a sneak peek of what’s to come.”
Vedral back at home
Quarterback Noah Vedral is back in his home state, just down Highway 77 from Wahoo Neumann, where he was a multisport star. That was one of the biggest appeals of transferring back from Central Florida to NU, following new coach Frost.
Frost was another major draw. Vedral said Frost was a “unique” mentor because he could play the role of father or older brother.
“A lot of coaches, they fill almost a father figure role on the team,” Vedral said. “Coach Frost is able to do that to really, really, really high standards, but, at the same time, he’s able to relate to us as a player, as a college kid, basically as a brother. He expects high things from you, but he’s realistic and he understands what it means to be a student-athlete.”
Big Ten teleconference: Scott Frost ‘a long way’ from naming Nebraska’s starting quarterback
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost appeared on the Big Ten coaches teleconference for the first time Wednesday.
In general, he said the team isn’t where coaches want them to be but he’s seen improvements throughout the first half of spring football.
In terms of picking a starting quarterback, Frost said it may come down to “a gut” feeling.
“Yeah, sometimes it’s a gut feeling, and a lot of times it really defines itself with all the reps we get at practice, it usually becomes pretty clear,” Frost said. “We’re a long way from deciding that, but we’re definitely continuing to look at that position and getting to know them better.”
The four quarterbacks vying for that starting spot are sophomore Patrick O’Brien, redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, true freshman Adrian Martinez and sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch. The coaching staff has been tight-lipped about where each of those quarterbacks stands through eight spring practices.
“Gebbia’s doing some good things running and throwing,” Frost said after practice on Tuesday. “Pat can really throw it and is doing a good job learning it. Bunch has been doing a really good job as a walk-on here. Adrian Martinez is showing signs of being really talented.”
Some other notes from Frost’s teleconference:
>> Frost said the hardest position to develop during the spring is probably quarterback.
“Because they have so much to manage and have to know more things than everyone else, and sometimes it takes the offense and the quarterbacks a little longer to come around,” Frost said.
> More than anything, Frost thinks the excitement surrounding the spring game sellout was based on having “Nebraska people” back in charge. He reiterated he wasn’t all that surprised the game did sell out.
“We’re going to have a sellout for our spring game just like we’ve had for every home game since 1962,” Frost said.
>> Official visits in the spring are not a priority for Nebraska, Frost said. He’d much rather have a player commit in the fall after visiting for a game than visit in the spring and commit in the summer.
“I want kids to be able to come and experience what a game is like here,” Frost said. “I’m also personally not crazy about getting too many kids committed in May and June.”
He added: “When a kid commits here I want it to be final, I want them to be done looking. We’re gonna be committed to them and not yank their scholarship if someone better wants to come or if they get hurt, if a kid belongs to us they’re ours and we’re gonna honor that and if a kid commits to us we expect them to honor that as well. So sometimes getting a kid committed early leads to a long haul and making sure they stay committed all the way through December or February.”
» Frost hasn’t finalized the format of the spring game but wants to “put on the best show we can” for fans.
» Writers from Sports Illustrated and The Athletic came to practice Tuesday.
» Former Husker receivers, tight ends and running backs coach Ron Brown — who now coaches at Liberty — attended practice Tuesday.
» NU will practice once more after the April 21 spring game to recap the performance and walk captains through how to run summer workouts and 7-on-7 sessions.