LINCOLN, Neb. — After the departure of former Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee, the Huskers are back in a quarterback competition once again this spring. You wouldn’t know it based on how the quarterbacks spoke of one another Tuesday following practice, though.
For sophomores Patrick O’Brien, Andrew Bunch and Noah Vedral, redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, and freshman Adrian Martinez, the quarterback room has become a brotherhood. How do you balance that brotherhood with competition?
“It’s a respect thing,” Gebbia said. “We all respect each other and we all have immense amount of talent. We’re just trying to be the best for the team and whoever is the best for the team, we’ll cheer him on and get after it.”
Coach Scott Frost has been pleased with the quarterbacks, especially as they work to learn his offense quickly. Thus far through spring, Frost noted that Gebbia has shown some good things both running and throwing, while O’Brien has shown his ability to throw the ball well and learn the offense quickly. As for Martinez, he’s shown plenty of talent for a freshman.
However, fans looking for a pecking order are out of luck. Every quarterback asked the question respectfully declined to answer, saying each quarterback is simply doing his job. For the group, that’s all that matters right now.
And when the competition starts to feel overwhelming, it’s all about coming back to what matters most for the group as a whole. Right now, that’s learning the offense and helping one another succeed through the process.
“I think it just comes down to being a good person,” Martinez said. “I feel like we have a lot of those guys in our quarterbacks room. We obviously know that we’re competing for the same spot but I’ve been thankful to be with guys who get that and still with guys that help each other. If Tristan has a question and it’s something that I know, I’m going to answer it. If we’re on the field, for instance like today, and Andrew Bunch threw a great ball down the sideline, got a first down for us and all of us were right there because we were excited for him. It goes both ways.
“It goes for all of us and it’s a cool environment to be in. I want to perform my best and I wish them the best. I think it shouldn’t be any other way.”
While Martinez is new to Nebraska, this is Gebbia’s second spring with the Huskers. He’s been through a quarterback competition once before, and ultimately redshirted the 2017 season. Now that he’s back in the position to compete, the journey has created a great experience.
“It’s been really fun,” Gebbia said. “I think having a great quarterback room, especially with guys that are friends and compete at the same time, is really good for not only the quarterback position but for the team. It’s been really fun competing with those guys and working hard with them. It’s been a blast.”
As for who will be named the starting quarterback and when, Frost isn’t in a hurry to answer either question. He has until September to make any final decisions.
In the meantime, the quarterbacks will continue to evolve as players and as a brotherhood. It’s not easy balancing friendships and competition, but the Huskers’ quarterbacks are doing their best to navigate it all.
“Once you’re on a team, you’re a family,” Vedral said. “I want the best for them and I know they want what’s best for me, too. We’re all in this together. Everyone believes the player should play no matter who that is, and we’re all going to be there to prepare and get there and to help this team succeed.”