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August 3, 2006

NU Notes: Wilson already turning heads in camp

The one newcomer that seems to have turned the most heads in his short time in Lincoln is junior college transfer running back Kenny Wilson.

The 6-foot, 220 pound Wilson arrived to Lincoln for summer conditioning in May and he hasn't wasted any time making his presence felt.

"He's way ahead of the curve," sophomore Cody Glenn said. "You don't see too many incoming guys come in doing what he did. He's doing coach (Dave) Kennedy workouts and lifting and stuff. That's stuff is tough man, probably one of the toughest in the nation.

"He just came in like he's been here for a while and did it with no problem. For a guy to come in and do that, it gets us ready because we know he's ready to compete."

Fellow sophomore running back Marlon Lucky was equally impressed with the early abilities Wilson has shown.

"He's way ahead of where I was last year," Lucky said. "He's going to bring his A game.

"He's strong man. He's physical. He came in and ripped up the running this summer. He came in and he's already doing his thing."

Lucky and Glenn closed out spring practice as the co-No. 1 running backs, but after seeing Wilson and junior Brandon Jackson back in action, they know the race is far from over.

"It's going to be pretty competitive," Lucky said. "Me, Cody and Brandon pretty much already know the playbook. Leon (Jackson) and Kenny are still learning everything, so we're all going to help each other out."

More than likely Nebraska will role with a committee approach this season. Playing more than one running back seems to be something everybody is fine with.

Practice Takes
The eyeball test: The thing that really jumped out in day one of practice for the Nebraska football team is several of the newcomers definitely passed the eyeball test with flying colors. Junior college transfers Kenny Wilson, Andre Jones and Carl Nicks are three of the more physically imposing newcomers I've seen in my eight seasons covering practice.
Storyline of the day: The biggest news of the day revolved around three players not at practice yet. Wide receiver Maurice Purify is in Lincoln and should be cleared to practice on Friday, but defensive tackle Brandon Johnson and defensive back Ricky Thenarse are not in Lincoln and it doesn't appear that they'll be here for at least a week. Purify is the biggest key in this trio of players….he's a difference maker and NU need's him out at practice immediately. Purify was out at Thursday's practice watching in street clothes.
Quote of the day: No doubt the best quote of the day was when sophomore running back Cody Glenn talked about how much quarterback Harrison Beck has changed in the last year. "With a lot of things with him he has to mature a little more," Glenn said. "You saw that a lot with the seven-on-seven stuff this past summer. He'd come in and try to take more control and try to become more of a leader instead of opposed to last year he'd goof off or jack around and not take stuff seriously. This year it's kind of like he's a different Harrison."
What's on tap next: Nebraska will resume fall camp on Friday with another 3 to 5:30 p.m. workout on the grass practice fields outside of Memorial Stadium. Saturday and Sunday NU is set to workout from 2:15 to 5 p.m. in half pads and Monday will be the first practice allowed in full pads.
"If I had to guess now I would say there's going to be probably two guys that really carry the load," Glenn said. "I haven't really seen anybody now that is good enough to carry it every single down kind of like Cory (Ross) did last year. It will probably be two, maybe three guys that get consistent play."

Three walk-ons awarded scholarships on Thursday

On Thursday, NU head coach Bill Callahan announced that walk-ons Brandon Rigoni, Ben Eisenhart and Andy Kadavy were all officially put on scholarship.

Since Callahan has been in Lincoln, he's put 12 walk-on players on scholarship—all from the state of Nebraska. Callahan even added that nine of the 12 players are from Class B schools are smaller.

Callahan awarded the scholarships at Wednesday night's meeting before he dismissed the team for the day.

"We didn't know it was coming at all," Rigoni said. "We went into meetings last night and the coaches said we need five quick minutes and that was it. It was kind of a surprise, but all of us were sure hoping we were going to get one."

When you look at a player like Eisenhart, he's your original small town Nebraska dream. In high school, Eisenhart played eight-man football for, Culbertson—a school that was so small that it no longer exists.

"It was never really a huge goal for me," Eisenhart said of earning a scholarship. "I knew if I worked hard I could get there and get one. I was never like that's what I'm going there to get. I was just looking forward to playing football here regardless if I was a walk-on or scholarship, so it was a pleasant surprise."

Offensive line ready to go

An area that must show improvement for the Nebraska football team this season is the offensive line. Last year senior guard Greg Austin said NU allowed starting quarterback Zac Taylor to take too many hits.

This year, Austin feels like the line has taken several steps in the right direction to protect Taylor and the other quarterbacks.

"Just the fundamentals of our line are getting better from everything we've seen from now and the spring," Austin said. "Guys are really embracing a lot of the things we were doing and they are doing them better."

Austin is currently working at left guard with Andy Christensen this fall and he said one of his other responsibilities this season for him will be to break in NU's young group of freshmen offensive linemen.

"I tell them with me being a senior if you need help, holler at me," Austin said. "However I can help them, I will do it. It's more of a mentor thing with me.

"I also told them that they have to be ready to come in and play just like I did my freshman year. The door is always open, so be ready."

Bomar incident hits close to home

When the news broke out of Oklahoma yesterday that starting Sooner quarterback Rhett Bomar was off the team for violating NCAA rules, it didn't take long for Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor's cell phone to ring.

The first call the Norman native got about the incident was from his father Sherwood Taylor, a former OU player and team captain.

"He called me about 15 seconds after it broke down there," Taylor said. "There's definitely a lot of hysteria going on down there.

"It was surprising to hear. I don't know what they'll do quarterback wise. Anytime you lose one of your biggest players it's going to be hard for you."

However, Taylor said Bomar's departure is really something that he and the rest of his teammates have no reason to worry about since they don't play the Sooners this year.

"It might do some things in the Big 12 South, but really for us it doesn't do much because we don't play them," Taylor said. "We're concerned about playing in the Big 12 championship game, but we really aren't concerned about who we'll play against. It really doesn't change much for us, but it changes a lot of things down there."

Quick hits

***Senior linebacker Stewart Bradley's new hairdo was one of the bigger laughs that came out of day one of fall camp.

"I'm just kind of flying by the seat of my pants," Bradley joked. "I'm going to let it grow until the end of the season. It's kind of 'mullet-esk.' I'm going to go the whole season without getting it cut."

***Glenn weighed in for fall camp at 234 pounds, but he hopes to be down in the 225 pound range by the end of training camp.

***Taylor said his younger brother Press Taylor will be following in his footsteps. Press Taylor begins his career at Butler C.C. in El Dorado (Kan.) this week.

***The popular 'Tour de Camp' yellow jerseys are back this year in fall camp. Every day the coaching staff will award yellow jerseys to the top performer on offense, defense and special teams.

***Callahan said there are no players currently being held out of fall camp with injuries.

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