Packed house at Nebraska football practice amid former Huskers, Junior Day

Packed house at Nebraska football practice amid former Huskers, Junior Day
Running backs coach Ryan Held said the Huskers adjusted part of their practice to accommodate the high school prospects. "We wanted our recruits to see individual (drills), not just make it a full scrimmage," Held said. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — By the end of football practice Saturday afternoon, the Hawks Center was buzzing.

Beyond Nebraska players and staff members, roughly 100 former players and dozens of recruits and their families — part of NU’s Junior Day event — lined the sidelines of the indoor field.

Running backs coach Ryan Held said the Huskers adjusted part of their practice to accommodate the high school prospects. NU scrimmaged situationally as opposed to full on so the visiting preps could get a preview of what working with the coaching staff would be like.

“We wanted our recruits to see individual (drills), not just make it a full scrimmage,” Held said. “We wanted our recruits and everybody to kind of see us coach and teach and not just have it be a scrimmage situation so they can see — if they decide to come here — how the coaching interaction is and how a practice works.”

Held said the Huskers tackled live to the ground between the numbers, but whistled plays dead on the edges with so many people in attendance.

“We’re not going to be car salesmen, we’re not going to be people that we aren’t,” Held said. “What you saw out there today, those guys, that’s how we are. We’re not putting on an act. … Yeah, it’s nice having more people in there, gets you a little more juiced up. But I don’t care if we’re in a parking lot, I’m still going to go out there and try to get these guys right and coach with enthusiasm. Because that’s what it takes.”

Offensive lineman Cole Conrad said former NU player Aaron Taylor spoke to the offense, sharing the value of brotherhood and sticking together. This coaching staff is a good one, so listen up, he told the current team.

Held said many of the former players are still “dudes now.” Having them attend practice — and give potential and current Huskers a taste of what the football program means to so many — is as valuable a recruiting tool as facility tours.

“I mean, we had some really good players here,” Held said. “That’s our job as coaches, when we go out recruiting we gotta get guys that will have good lengths and toughness and physicality and all that that we gotta get to change the culture here.”

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