Cameron Jurgens

If healthy, Cameron Jurgens could be one of the favorites to start at center next season.

CHICAGO — Scott Frost declined to address the specific health of redshirt freshman Cameron Jurgens. But in general, a full-go season from the converted offensive lineman would go a long way for the Huskers.

Jurgens, who has endured multiple lower-body injuries during his football career at Beatrice and Nebraska, came to NU as a tight end before moving to center last season. That position will be one of the main battles of fall camp.

“When he was healthy, I saw some really special things from him,” Frost said. “I think he has a chance to be an elite player if he stays healthy and stays on the course that he’s on. It’s important for us as a team to have him, particularly with our need on the interior of the line.”

Other candidates Frost mentioned for center include Hunter Miller, Will Farniok, Trent Hixson and Iowa Western transfer Josh Wegener. Left guard options include Broc Bando and John Raridon, the coach said

Transfers going strong

Two summer transfers and potential impact players earned praise from Frost early in his hourlong media session Thursday.

Both tight end Travis Vokolek and wide receiver Kanawai Noa became Huskers through unusual circumstances, the Nebraska coach said.

Vokolek, a Rutgers transfer who caught 17 passes for 198 yards in two seasons, is the son of Northern Iowa assistant coach D.J. Vokolek, who knows Frost well. Frost said NU is undecided on whether it will pursue an immediate-eligibility waiver for the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior, who initially reached out to the Huskers.

“This was a unique situation because we’re familiar with him and the family,” Frost said. “I think he’s got a ton of talent, and I look forward to watching him. All you have to do is watch him walk down the hall to realize he’s got some special things about him. So we’re excited to have him in the program.”

Nebraska already has five scholarship underclassman tight ends on the roster, though none broke out in the passing game last season.

With Noa, Frost said NU was not actively pursuing a receiver. But the Cal graduate transfer has the character and attitude that fits with the culture. He also has a track record of production despite various injuries, making 96 catches for 1,267 yards and six touchdowns in 35 career games (16 starts).

“The quarterbacks are telling me he already knows three receiver spots and is very reliable, understands how to run routes and get open,” Frost said. “He’s a good addition to that room.”

Huskers ignoring hype

Frost isn’t keeping track of preseason prognostications, even if many of them hail Nebraska as the team to beat in the Big Ten West division.

There are too many good programs, Frost said at media days Thursday, including many the Huskers have yet to beat under his watch.

“I don’t care who people are picking. I don’t,” Frost said. “I know we’re better, we’re better than we were a year ago. But we still have to go out and earn anything. Picks are picks; guesses are guesses. Ninety percent of the time you guys are wrong when you guess things.”

Test results ‘a big deal’

Frost wants to publicize players’ testing results again. And he thinks the team may be getting closer to testing well enough to do it.

Midway through his Thursday media session, Frost recalled the days when former strength and conditioning coach Boyd Epley would test athletes in the spring, then announce the top performers to the media, which would publish or broadcast the results.

“I still want to get back to a day that, when we test at Nebraska, it’s a big deal,” Frost said. “I remember that. It was in your guys’ papers every year, twice a year when we tested in our 40, our agility run, our squat, our clean, our vertical jump. It was competitive, it was impressive, it was a big deal.”

Frost said strength coach Zach Duval didn’t think Nebraska’s roster was in a position to test well when he arrived. The team is “really close to that now.”

“Some of the numbers I’m seeing now are night-and-day different from when I arrived,” Frost said. “It’s going to make a big difference.”

Marijuana ‘a problem’

Frost said marijuana use on any athletic team is “a problem” that he’s recently addressed with his own team in the wake of several players being cited for possession of either marijuana or drug paraphernalia.

Sophomore running back Maurice Washington, freshman receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and senior defensive back Jeramiah Stovall have been cited in the offseason for pot-related offenses.

“It’s going to continue to be a problem not just with us but college athletes everywhere, particularly with it being legalized other places,” Frost said. “Our team understands I don’t care where it’s legal and where it isn’t. It’s illegal according to the NCAA. I don’t think it’s beneficial for guys who are trying to accomplish what our guys are trying to accomplish. We’re certainly not unique in that we’ve had a few problems with that, but we’re doing everything we can in trying to help kids not do it. We’ll keep fighting that battle.”

Daniels 'a problem' for opponents

Live on the BTN broadcast Thursday, Khalil Davis called Oklahoma State transfer Darrion Daniels a problem.

He doubled down during his podium time.

“A huge problem,” Davis said.

Daniels, a 330-pound graduate transfer, will likely start at nose tackle for Nebraska. And already he’s become someone the defensive line doesn’t want to let down.

“Darrion, he didn’t come in trying to step on anybody’s boundaries or be a leader. He’s just naturally a leader,” Davis said. “Through workouts and spring ball he just kind of put his two cents in on what we needed to do better on and everybody just took light to that.”

Besides being one of the bigger players, Davis said, Daniels is exceptionally fast.

Quick hits

» Incoming freshman Ethan Piper is moving from defense to offense, Frost said. The Norfolk Catholic graduate listed at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds will be an “inside guy” to start out. He was originally slated to play defensive line.

“That may or may not be permanent depending on how it goes,” Frost said. “But he’s going to be a guard/center/guard for us.”

» Frost reiterated his interest in scheduling more former Big Eight rivals in nonconference games, because Husker fans can drive to opposing stadiums, and those opponents’ fans can drive to Nebraska.

» Frost likes the Big Ten West and East Divisions the way they are and doesn’t expect it’ll be very long before “people are talking about the West just as much as they’re talking about the East.”

» The transfer portal is fair to student-athletes, Frost said, because “this is America, land of the free and home of the brave, and people ought to be able to take advantage of whatever opportunity they want to,” but he’s concerned that immediate eligibility waivers could become like free agency.

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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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