LINCOLN — Nebraska sophomore quarterback Patrick O’Brien has left the Huskers and plans to transfer to a new school, he confirmed Thursday after missing practice. Coach Scott Frost said O’Brien had asked for his release.
Frost spoke to The World-Herald by phone Thursday shortly after two of his assistant coaches, Troy Walters and Mario Verduzco, said O’Brien wasn’t at practice. O’Brien’s practice reps were limited Tuesday, and he did not talk to the media after the workout like the rest of the quarterbacks.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Frost said. “He’s a great kid. I think he wants to find a system that fits his skill set.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound O’Brien was recruited by former coach Mike Riley to run a pro-style offense.
O’Brien, via a Twitter post, said in part, “I want to thank Coach Frost and all of his staff. The short time I spent with them was great and I learned a lot but it just wasn’t the right fit.” Later in the post O’Brien said he “loved every minute at this school and will cherish it for a lifetime.”
Frost prefers a spread option, up-tempo system that requires running from the quarterback. On Tuesday, the three quarterbacks Frost thinks can do that best next season — Tristan Gebbia, Andrew Bunch and Adrian Martinez — took most of the reps in practice. How many did O’Brien get?
“Not very many,” said Verduzco, who added that “speed and athleticism” were the traits that differentiated Gebbia, Bunch and Martinez from O’Brien. Another quarterback, Noah Vedral, has speed and athleticism, too, but NCAA rules mandate that he has to sit out a season after transferring from Central Florida.
Frost confirmed that O’Brien’s rushing ability was a key factor in determining reps.
“Pat’s a good athlete, but I think the other three are a little more capable of moving the ball with their feet,” Frost said. “They’ve just kind of passed him. We want what’s best for all these guys. I really do think he’d be better suited to a more traditional-style offense. That’s what he was recruited here to do, and then the offense changed. We’re on his side and we’re going to support him.”
O’Brien’s decision leaves Nebraska with two scholarship quarterbacks, Gebbia and Martinez. Bunch is a sophomore walk-on, and Vedral will be put on scholarship at a later date. Frost said he had not decided if NU would pursue a graduate transfer quarterback this offseason. One such option, former Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins, committed to Indiana this week.
“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.”
O’Brien, a four-star recruit in the 2016 class, leaves NU having completed 18 of 30 passes, all in 2017 mop-up duty behind Tanner Lee, who beat O’Brien last spring for the starting job. O’Brien played the second half of the 54-21 loss to Minnesota — completing 12 of 18 passes for 137 yards — in relief of Lee, who had suffered a concussion. Lee recovered the following week, however, and O’Brien did not throw a pass for the rest of the season.
Out of San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) Hills High School, O’Brien had scholarship offers from Colorado State and Texas Tech, among other programs.
‘There’s a chance’: Nebraska quarterback Noah Vedral exploring options for immediate eligibility
On a day when Nebraska’s quarterback depth took a hit, there’s a possibility it might be restocked soon.
Noah Vedral, the sophomore from Wahoo, told me he’s going to look into applying for a waiver to the NCAA transfer rule after spring practice. Vedral transferred to NU from Central Florida with head coach Scott Frost, but under NCAA rules must sit out a year before he’s eligible.
However, the NCAA’s Division I Transfer Working Group — a committee looking into the future of the transfer rule — plans to meet later this month to consider immediate changes in the rule. Two of the exceptions expected to be considered for immediate eligibility: those who meet specific, high-achieving academic benchmarks, and transfers whose head coach leaves for another school.
Vedral could fit into either category and, depending on when it goes into effect, believes he could be eligible to play this fall.
“From everything I’ve researched, there’s a chance,” Vedral said.