LINCOLN, Neb. — Quarterback Patrick O’Brien’s request to transfer from Nebraska has been granted. A Nebraska official confirmed the news to Land of 10 after O’Brien didn’t attend practice Thursday. O’Brien also tweeted confirmation about his departure.
With O’Brien’s departure, Nebraska has only two scholarship quarterbacks eligible to play in 2018 — redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and freshman Adrian Martinez. Sophomores Andrew Bunch and Noah Vedral also are on the roster, although Vedral has to sit out the 2018 season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. Bunch is a walk-on.
Gebbia, Martinez, Vedral and Bunch spoke on Tuesday about the brotherhood they are forming. The race for the starting position is still very much open, and many fans assume the job will ultimately go to either Gebbia or Martinez come September.
Frost recruited Martinez quickly after he took the Nebraska job in early December.
“I’m excited about him. He has a lot of potential,” Frost said during the early signing period. “When I was evaluating quarterbacks a year ago around the country, he was my favorite one. His ability to run and throw and his maturity as a kid are going to serve him really well, and for the offense that we run I didn’t think there was a better fit in the country. Once we took the Nebraska job, we got a hold of him right away, and we’re thrilled to have him on campus.”
Martinez is coming off a torn right (throwing shoulder) labrum that kept him out for his senior season, but Frost confirmed Tuesday that the dual-threat quarterback is about 90 percent healed. In his junior season, Martinez put up 2,562 passing yards for 25 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He ran for 1,462 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games, per MaxPreps.
As for Gebbia, he was recruited by former Nebraska coach Mike Riley as a pro-style quarterback. Gebbia threw for more than 5,300 yards and 61 touchdowns as a senior at Calabasas (Calif.) High School, but he wasn’t stagnant on the ground. The redshirt freshman added nearly 300 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns that season.
Now that Gebbia is a part of Frost’s offense, he feels he can step up his ground game as needed.
“I didn’t do a whole lot of running in high school, but when I did, I felt like I got us 8, 10 yards,” Gebbia said following practice Tuesday. “When I had to run, I was able to. I want to be able to do that again. If I have to go run out there and make a play, I guess I will, too.”
Fans shouldn’t factor out Bunch yet, as Frost has been more than complimentary of the sophomore this spring. Bunch walked on at Nebraska in January 2017 after spending one season at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. While he was eligible to play right away for the Huskers, he opted to redshirt.
“Andrew, for one, he’s a great kid to be around,” Frost said. “He’s really gone to work learning it. Has the ability to process information quickly and makes good decisions. He’s more athletic than I expected him to be. When he takes off running, he can make some things happen. He’s been a pleasant surprise to me because I wasn’t expecting as much as I’ve seen.”
Adding even more interest to the position, Vedral appears to be applying for an NCAA waiver to play this season. He currently has to sit out after transferring from Central Florida in early January.
In another interesting twist, Noah Vedral told Tom Shatel that he will apply for a waiver to try to play in 2018. #Huskers
— Adam Krueger (@AdamKruegerTV) April 12, 2018
Frost likely will look to add a quarterback transfer after spring football. He wasn’t ready to speak about it in late March, but O’Brien’s transfer may speed up the decision.
However, it’s not a guarantee. Frost told Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald that he will have to weigh the options around pursuing a graduate transfer.
“The guys we have are doing a pretty good job,” Frost said. “If we feel good enough to go into the season, with what we’ve got, that’d be better than trying to add somebody else to the mix at a later stage. We’ll look at options, but right now we’re pretty happy with the guys who are here.”