Riley pleased to add Tulane transfer QB
LINCOLN — Tanner Lee's name wasn't on the Nebraska list of signees Wednesday, but head coach Mike Riley seemed just as happy to add the quarterback transfer from Tulane.
"I really like this get," Riley said. Lee was looking to leave Tulane after a coaching change signaled a change in offenses. Riley said the quarterback's trek to NU started with "a call from a friend that basically knew the family and knew the situation that was starting to unfold at Tulane."
Riley said he actually had heard about Lee from a pro scout several months earlier, not knowing that he would be leaving the Green Wave. NU assistant coach Keith Williams also knew about the two-year starter from his time at Tulane.
Lee has to sit out next season and would be a senior in 2017, although he is expected to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. Tommy Armstrong and Ryker Fyfe will be seniors this fall, with AJ Bush and Zack Darlington entering their sophomore years.
"It provides us more competition in a transition period after Tommy graduates," Riley said. "We'll have a very good young player in Patrick (O'Brien), we have the guys that are currently in the program, and we've added Tanner to that picture, who has played in games and been productive.
"I think he is a very talented guy, and so I think our quarterback picture really was improved with him deciding to come."
Reed out for spring
Riley said Wednesday that safety Antonio Reed recently had arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss spring practice.
Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey also had his knee checked again, Riley said, but could still be ready when spring drills start March 5.
Defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg and receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El likely won't be ready until fall camp. Riley said Pierson-El has been doing well and is in good spirits coming off his knee surgery last fall. "I think he'll be full speed for the year."
"Those are the kinds of things that it's better to get to early, and they get back as soon as they can in the late spring (or) early summer, and should be fully ready to go by the fall," Riley said. "You hate to miss them in spring ball, but you like to have them in the season. Everything points toward August right now."
Lane Hovey will play his final college season at Montana after catching 17 passes the last two seasons with the Huskers. The former walk-on from Adel, Iowa, will be eligible immediately because the Grizzlies play at the FCS level.
Riley said the Huskers "hate to lose Lane, a wonderful, great man and a really good football player."
"He played for us and would get in the games, but maybe looking for a little more opportunity to play — and I get that totally," Riley said. "We just wish him the best because he's a great, great young man and he'll always be a Nebraska football alum."
Among others who previously left the program, defensive end Joe Keels is headed to Eastern Michigan as a graduate transfer and cornerback Trai Mosley has transferred to Central Arkansas. Riley said he believes linebacker Adrienne Talan will land at a junior college.
A saner spring
Riley said the start of this offseason has been far more enjoyable than a year ago, when the Huskers were going through winter conditioning but still building relationships with the new staff.
"It was a strange feeling," Riley said Wednesday during the Huskers.com signing day show. "We knew the recruits better than we knew our team, and that's not good. It's not very comfortable. So it's good to have our feet on the ground in some of those areas that are way different than one year ago."
NU assistant coach Brian Stewart hopes it translates to the field this spring.
"I think the big thing is, we all get to be together and it's not a learning process for everybody in the spring," Stewart said. "It's a growing process. It's a finishing process and progression. We're excited about that. Now this spring, we're fine-tuning. We know who we're going to play. We know how we're going to play."
Putting it on the line
Nebraska signed four offensive linemen Wednesday after picking up Jalin Barnett, Michael Decker and Christian Gaylord a year ago.
During his segment on Huskers.com, line coach Mike Cavanaugh brought up Gaylord, a tackle from Baldwin, Kansas.
"We're going to see how it goes in the spring and force-feed him," Cavanaugh said. "He's got to really have a great offseason. He's got a lot of tools. A good athlete. He's got the length that you're looking for."
Decker will try to join the mix at center with Paul Thurston and perhaps Dylan Utter. Barnett will play guard during spring drills.
"I'm excited about it," Cavanaugh said. "So we'll see who rises." — Rich Kaipust