All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to Husker linebacker Garrett Nelson about what it means to earn a Blackshirt as a freshman, taking on a leadership role, preparing for Wisconsin and more.
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, The People’s Show, where we check the pulse of Husker Nation, brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital, and today I am joined by the newest Blackshirt on the Nebraska football team, freshman Mr. Garrett Nelson. How are you doing, Garrett?
Garrett: I’m doing pretty well right now, I’m not gonna lie.
Adam: Yeah, is today going pretty good for ya? How did today go for ya?
Garrett: It definitely took an upturn this morning, that’s for sure.
Adam: So what was it like walking into the locker room, walking to your locker, and seeing that Blackshirt hanging there, waiting for you?
Garrett: I just got done with meetings and I came down to my locker. I noticed my white shirt that I put on my pads was not there anymore. Looked to my right and saw my Blackshirt and kind of lost it for a minute. Took a minute to look at it, and realized what it means, that rent is due every day. I didn’t have a lot of time to collect my thoughts, I had to put it on my pads and get ready for practice. Obviously, I have time now, so I’m going to take a minute.
Adam: Rent is due every day. I love that, it’s a great saying. Now that you’re able to process it a little bit now and practice is over, you can think about it, collect your thoughts, what does this mean to you? And just in general, in your opinion, what does being a Blackshirt mean in general as well?
Garrett: It’s a sense of, we’re not perfect, but we want to be perfectionists. Our attention to detail is a huge part of being a Blackshirt. Another big part is going a 100 million miles an hour every single play, and playing for your brother to your left and to your right. You never, ever give up on a play and you never give up on your brothers. Like I said, rent’s due every day. Come to practice with an attitude that you’re going to make every play in front of you as much as you possibly can. Play for each other and love each other. That’s what it means to be a Blackshirt.
Adam: Now, talk to me, because it’s been a while since a true freshman has gotten a Blackshirt here at Nebraska. I believe you and Wan’Dale Robinson — and if I'm missing somebody let me know — are the only true freshmen in this class to have burned their redshirt as well. Did the coaches talk to you about what you wanted to do, if you wanted to redshirt or play? I remember my freshman year, they asked me if I wanted to redshirt or play. I looked up and saw three seniors and two juniors, and said thank you, I’ll redshirt and get that year back later on. Your situation is a little different, obviously. A lot more youth in your position than mine when I was a freshman. Talk to me about that decision making process for you to play this year, and not save the redshirt.
Garrett: We never really had a talk. In my mind, I knew I wanted to play. I knew I wanted to get as much time on the field as I could, whether it be special teams or actually playing on the defense. I just wanted to show up to work every day and be the biggest impacter I can at the position, wherever I’m at on the defense, and wherever the cards fall, the cards fall. Having that mindset, going into practice every day and working my ass off, obviously you can see the result. But we never really had a sit down talk, so on my own, I was like, screw this. Yeah, I’m a freshman, but that doesn't matter, why wait? So, I went in and attacked it.
Adam: Gotcha. Being a Blackshirt now, maybe you can speak more freely to this. Throughout the course of this year, Scott Frost has pointed out at times, the effort and conviction hasn’t been there to the point that he would like. As a guy who has been elevated to one of those leader positions to a certain degree even though you’re a young guy you've got the Blackshirt — how do you guys get everyone to get that conviction, to get that attitude that rent is due every day? How do you get everyone on board with that same attitude going forward?
Garrett: Like I said, rent’s due every day. You have to make a choice as soon as you wake up, as soon as your feet hit the ground, that you’re going to be the best you can be today. You can’t come to work with a sorry attitude like, yeah I guess I’ll be out there and yeah, I guess I’ll play defense, I guess I’ll get my fit. You have to want to get your fit, you have to want to kill the guy in front of you. You have to want to beat the team you’re playing that week. You have to show up every day at practice with that conviction in mind. Yeah, it hurts, yeah you’re tired, yeah sometimes it sucks, but that’s just football and that’s life and that’s how it is. Understanding that and getting that mindset into people is the conviction we’re talking about. I guess it just comes natural to me. It’s how I was raised. It’s kind of my attitude toward football and life. Getting everybody on board — and it’s not like it’s an outstanding amount of people — it’s just small details and small things getting fixed with that conviction. With that, we’ll change the whole outlook of this season, in a sense of the games we lost and change the way we do things right now and in the future.
Adam: I think I already know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Are you more of a quiet leader, a leader by example, or are you more vocal?
Garrett: I guess it depends on the situation. You need to know when to yell, and you need to know when to be the player that you are. You've got to understand the situation and understand the people you’re talking to. Some guys don’t respond to an ass-chewing every single second. Some guys do. Some guys just need to see a 320-pound D-lineman running out of the stack and making a play 10 yards down field, and that will get their fire going. It depends on the situation. Yelling at some dudes who get going, you're not playing up to expectation, obviously there are situations like that that needs to happen, but you don’t need to be ass-chewing everybody every single second, because that’s when everybody starts getting pissed off at you. In times you need to be that guy that pisses everybody off to get the fire going, so I guess it’s a little bit of both.
Adam: That’s an incredibly mature answer, and I wish there were some older individuals that I’ve encountered in my who understood as well. Even some dudes I know to this day who don’t understand that when they’re coaching kids, they just scream and yell at everybody. It’s like, dude what is wrong with you? To a certain degree, that is appropriate, but like you said you've got to understand the situation, so that is a very mature answer right there.
So talk to me about Wisconsin and what you guys have seen on film. Looking ahead to this game, one of the Wisconsin players said he doesn’t really see this as a rivalry because the trophy’s never left where they’re at. So talk to me about how you're approaching this Wisconsin game and the last three games of the year, following the second bye week.
Garrett: I guess I’ll start with that linebacker. Everybody knows what he said. With social media now, it's instant, you can see what he said, and everybody knows what he said. Obviously, that’s a little fuel to the fire every day at practice to come and work even harder. But why focus on what Wisconsin is doing — obviously we need to know what they're doing scheme-wise — but we need to focus on what we're going to do them, and how we're going to enforce our will onto them. You already know what it is. Just throwing it back to my high school days, it’s running the ball 80 times a game, it’s two tight-end sets. These are dive plays, and we’re going to run it every play until you can stop it. It’s what it is. Understanding that and understanding the tendencies they have in formations will be a big part. We’ve been doing well in practice, understanding the shifts and motions, all those formational things. But what it comes down to is having the conviction to absolutely kill the guy in front of you and drive him back five yards. That's what it comes down to. Getting off of blocks, getting to the quarterback and the really good running back they have. It’s all about the choice you make every single play.
Adam: Alright man, well congratulations, welcome to the the Blackshirt fraternity, and I want to thank you for joining me today. Good luck on Saturday and the rest of the season.
Garrett: Appreciate it, man, it means a lot.
Adam: Alright, until next time, Husker Nation, Go Big Red, and always remember ...
Garrett: THROW THE BONES, BABY!
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.
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