Now that Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has settled into his new digs a bit, it’s time to address who will be leading his high octane offense in 2018. While there is depth in the Huskers’ quarterback room, logic dictates that there simply will not be a fit for a couple of its current residents. This brings us to two official visitors coming in this weekend.
If you follow recruiting, one name will be relatively new and another should be quite familiar. Let’s start with the newbie.
Current Tennessee commitment Adrian Martinez is about as close to a prototype for Frost’s offense as you can get. A dangerous dual-threat out of Fresno, Calif., the Under Armour All-American would immediately insert himself into the running for playing time.
If you had the opportunity to watch McKenzie Milton at UCF this year, his performances are an excellent example of what Frost wants to do. However, Martinez is the evolution of the position with the Huskers’ head coach calling the plays.
Martinez shows poise in the pocket, but as should be initially expected in Frost’s offense, he looks like a natural in the play action passing game. His ability to find receivers or scamper for easy yardage is the thing offensive coordinators dream of and defensive coordinators curse.
To give you an idea just how hot a prospect Martinez is — especially in Nebraska’s eyes — let’s review the Huskers’ luck with quarterback recruiting over the past 15 cycles (all rankings used are 247Sports Composite). Keep in mind this spans four different coaching staffs.
2002 – Curt Dukes (302)
2003 – Joe Dailey (640)
2004 – Joe Ganz (852), Beau Davis (917), Jordan Adams (241 JUCO)
2005 – Harrison Beck (142), Zac Taylor (29 JUCO)
2006 – N/A
2007 – Zac Lee (18 JUCO)
2008 – Kody Spano (448)
2009 – Cody Green (147), Taylor Martinez (597)
2010 – Brion Carnes (387)
2011 – Bubba Starling (110) (Left to play MLB)
2012 – Tommy Armstrong (286)
2013 – Johnny Stanton (290)
2014 – Zack Darlington (443)
2015 – N/A
2016 – Patrick O’Brien (209)
2017 – Tristan Gebbia (200)
Next up is a name that Nebraska fans should be all too familiar with, especially if they follow recruiting ravenously.
Terry Wilson was originally committed to the Cornhuskers in 2015 before current quarterback Patrick O’Brien made a pledge himself. Interestingly enough, the guy who filled Wilson in on how he could benefit the school he eventually signed with (Oregon) was Frost himself.
Following a redshirt season and the elevation of Justin Herbert to the starting spot, Wilson took his leave and transferred to Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kan.
Wilson was named the Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 following a season that saw him go 164 of 280 for 1,776 yards and 22 touchdowns versus nine interceptions. He also accumulated 454 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
He doesn’t have an offer from Nebraska walking in the door this weekend. However, he was just offered by new Florida head coach Dan Mullen. With both Frost and new quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco stopping to see Wilson, it appears that all parties will be seeing if Nebraska is a mutually beneficial fit for the Oklahoma City native after all.
In fact, Parker Gabriel of the Lincoln Journal Star quoted Garden City head coach Jeff Sims as saying, “If Scott Frost isn’t the head coach at Nebraska, there’s no chance Terry Wilson goes to Nebraska. But because Scott Frost is the head coach at the University of Nebraska, Nebraska’s a finalist.”
Should Wilson get an offer from the Big Red, it’s hard to think he won’t accept another go around with Frost.
Securing both Martinez and Wilson immediately helps fill out a depth chart that addresses the most critical position for Nebraska’s new offense. That said, those already on the roster do need to be reviewed.
While all scholarship quarterbacks could run Frost’s offense in theory, the degree of difficulty may simply be too high for some. As commendable of a job Tanner Lee has done at being a team player, his assets are far more valuable in a traditional pro-style system. As such, it may be in his best interest to test the waters of the NFL Draft or explore options at another school.
Patrick O’Brien could find a place in the new system. Frost has endlessly praised Verduzco for his ability to be nothing short of a quarterback whisperer and O’Brien has all of the tools to be effective. It would ultimately come down to how he performs versus a fit that’s far more automatic such as Martinez or Wilson.
Finally, there’s Tristan Gebbia. Out of all current scholarship quarterbacks, he is the one that appears to have the most likely chance to beat out Martinez or Wilson for the starting spot in 2018.
His experience at a higher level of play may be limited, but he is far more athletic than the average Husker fan gives him credit for, especially after being brought in for Mike Riley’s system. He’s a film room junkie, will adapt to whatever the new strength and conditioning staff throws at him and, simply put, he’s a gamer.
Having a quarterback room that consists of Gebbia, Martinez and Wilson would provide a strong foundation for Frost to build his offense around. O’Brien could very well surprise, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see both him and Lee simply be the odd men out and have better options elsewhere.
Keep in mind that both Wilson and Martinez are potential early enrollees and could sign on the dotted line come December 20. If that happens, Frost would have his quarterback room of the future essentially filled after two and a half weeks on the job.