LINCOLN, Neb. — Tanner Lee has been waiting a long time for this.
“It was about a year (ago) this time when I was at Tulane when I decided I wanted a change,” Lee, a redshirt junior, said Thursday.
After transferring to Nebraska, Lee had to sit out last season, watching away games from his couch and playing scout team at practices to prepare the Blackshirt defense.
That was tough, he said. But he thinks the experience helped him get ready for this coming season — and the quarterback battle in which he is currently embroiled with redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien. Like Lee, O’Brien spoke to the media for the first time as a Cornhusker on Thursday.
“It was a good year to get healthy and focus on things I wanted to improve on,” Lee said.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said the competition between Lee and O’Brien so far is “very, very” close. They’re at about the same in passing percentage at practice and both grade about the same, he said.
But the advantage Lee thinks he has vs. O’Brien is experience. Lee started 19 games at Tulane, throwing for 3,601 yards, 23 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two seasons.
“Early on in my career at Tulane I always knew I needed experience and that’s always what other quarterbacks had on me,” said Lee, who was the Huskers’ Scout Team Offensive MVP last season. “So I feel like now, drills and film study can’t really teach experience. So I think having that helps me just in all facets of football on and off the field.”
Lee also lobbied that he fits “really well” in the offense. In the past, Lee said, Langsdorf has liked tall quarterbacks who can drop back and pass. That’s who Lee is and what he does best, he said.
“It’s a big reason why I came here,” Lee said. “I can see myself playing here, being successful in this offense.”
Lee said the competition with O’Brien is “good” for both parties. The whole processes will make each other better, he said.
But no doubt, Lee is gunning for that starting position he’s been waiting for.
The last time there was a quarterback battle under Langsdorf’s watch, he was coaching at Oregon State. And it lasted until the week before the first game in September. And Lee has no problem waiting that long.
“Just trying to string together a few practices and do the best that I can do every day and control what I can control is what I’m focused on,” Lee said.