Zach Duval

Thanks to strength coach Zach Duval, the Huskers are making noticeable improvements in the weight room this offseason.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost already knows there are massive changes going on inside his program.

He can tell by looking through the windows of his office overlooking the weight room.

“Last year we had guys who couldn’t even get through workouts that had no idea how hard we wanted them to work, and weren’t motivated to do it,” Frost said.

There’s no trace of that this year. Frost loves what he sees in workouts and the new look of his players' bodies.

“Love even more the attitude I’m seeing down there,” Frost said. “That’s where you can transform your team, make it bigger, faster, stronger, make it tougher and more close-knit.”

The work inside the weight room also spills out into the hallways of Memorial Stadium. The guys are around the offices more, Frost said. They’re smiling and joking. Everyone seems excited for spring ball in five weeks.

“That’s a far cry from where we were,” Frost said. “When I walked into the first team meeting room you could have heard a pin drop in there. That’s not the team I wanna coach.

"I want a team when I walk into the team meeting room they’re having fun and chatting it up and loving being around each other, and then they can dial it in and get to work. The attitudes I see and the camaraderie that I see isn’t even on the same level. Not even close to where it was a year ago.”

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Huskers get healthier

Nebraska is adding more than 25 scholarship players to its roster, but that doesn't even include a handful of redshirt freshmen returning from injuries.

Frost said defensive lineman Tate Wildeman is looking great after dealing with a knee injury last fall. Safety Cam’ron Jones is back after shoulder surgery. Defensive end Casey Rogers has also recovered from his shoulder injury, and he's putting on weight, too.

Junior receiver JD Spielman, who missed the Iowa game with a high ankle sprain, is also back, Frost said.

The only player not back yet is safety CJ Smith, who was hurt during his only appearance in a game against Northwestern. His return may take a little longer, Frost said.

Frost nicknamed all those injured freshman the “Black Sweatshirt Posse.”

“They all sat in the same place on the wall during practice wearing the same hooded sweatshirt. Usually the same one I had on, so I went over and joined them from time to time,” Frost said. “Those are some talented kids, and I get a little upset looking over how much talent we had sitting on the wall. And it’s been an unfortunate set of circumstances with those kids.”

With all of them back, Frost said, it is almost like six more recruits joining the team.

“Anxious to put all those pieces together,” Frost said. “Those guys are going to make a difference in our team if they approach this the right way.”

Quarterback brotherhood

Frost said he often talked with former Husker Zac Taylor when he was at Nebraska from 2005-06. Taylor was named this week as the next coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

“There’s kind of a Nebraska quarterback brotherhood that exists with most of us,” Frost said.

Frost wished Taylor good luck with his new job, calling Taylor “a football guy.”

“He’ll give me a reason to try to root for him and Cincinnati a little bit,” Frost said. “We wish him nothing but the best.”

No more Christmases at home

Thanks to a 4-8 record, Nebraska missed bowl season for the second straight year, the first time that's happened since the 1960s.

It didn’t sit well with Frost, who took Central Florida to bowls in both years there and was a regular in New Year’s Six Bowls with Oregon.

“I’m not used to having Christmas off,” Frost said. “It was nice being with family, I don’t ever want it to happen again.”

Frost said he was encouraged with the Big Ten’s showing during bowl season. Especially when he considers Nebraska took a lot of those teams to the brink.

“There’s some really good performances with Big Ten teams that we battled with and played well with, and in some cases had a chance to win or won the games,” Frost said. “It lets me know that even though the program wasn’t anywhere near where I want it yet at the end of last season, that maybe we’re not that far away. And I think that can be a beacon for hope for all of us as we’re working hard this offseason.”

Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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