LINCOLN — The Nebraska football team announced Saturday night its four captains for the season.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez, right tackle Matt Farniok, nose tackle Darrion Daniels and inside linebacker Mohamed Barry were voted by their teammates as captains. NU coach Scott Frost said on Friday that players would select their leaders, and he expected at least one non-senior on offense.
Martinez, picked by Nebraska to attend Big Ten media days as a sophomore, was widely expected to be one of the captains. He’s likely the second sophomore in school history to be a captain, following Joe Dailey in 2004, who was a captain alongside current NU inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud.
“It’s always tough to be that guy who calls out your teammates, your brothers, but you just have to remember I’m doing it for their own good,” Martinez said during training camp. “I’m not doing it to be mean. I’m not doing it to be a jerk. I’m doing it because I care about you. And when you think of it like that, with that perspective, you know that other person will have no choice but to appreciate what you’re doing for them.”
As it turns out, Farniok, a two-year starter, was the other non-senior representative on offense. The junior has increasingly become more vocal on the line. Martinez, challenged by Frost in the spring to become more of a leader, has done so.
Daniels is the rare graduate transfer to become a captain but, after he arrived from Oklahoma State, he impressed teammates with his work ethic and encouragement. Daniels was a captain last season at Oklahoma State, too.
“He’s brought a spark to that D-line, a sense of accountability to that D-line and the whole defense,” Frost said during spring practice. “He’s going to be a real asset, and I’m not just talking about on the field.”
Daniels also won Barry over in the spring. “He proved himself,” the linebacker said. “He outworked people.”
Barry, a fifth-year senior, has been a leader within the program for several years and has long started by working on his own game before addressing others.
“When you can take criticism and be your own worst critic,” he said in the spring, “that is where you are going to go. You are going to go places as you fix your flaws and get better.”
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25. Penn State: If James Franklin wins the Big Ten in 2019, it’ll be one heck of a coaching job. The Nittany Lions are in a firm transition year and have tricky Big Ten West road games at Iowa and Minnesota.
24. Mississippi State: Nothing is easy in the SEC West — the Bulldogs will struggle to reach nine wins — but don’t bet against coach Joe Moorhead and Penn State transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens.
23. Arizona State: The Pac-12 Ssouth is pretty soft by just about every standard, and Herm Edwards’ style of steady offense and good defense takes a jump in Year Two.
22. Minnesota: The Gophers have a lot of pieces back, including almost all of their offensive production and a big, burly offensive line. This is a sleeper pick to win the Big Ten West.
21. Iowa State: What a year in the Midwest, huh? The Cyclones haven’t been ranked at the end of the season since 2000. That’s how good Matt Campbell might be.
20. Michigan State: Even a passable offense earns the Spartans a nine-win season. The defense is that good — shades of 2013, when MSU won the Rose Bowl.
19. Nebraska: You get the sense the Huskers are close, really close, and may be only a solid offensive line away from winning the whole Big Ten. The quarterback is in place, so is the defense, and the skill players are better than advertised.
18. Auburn: The lack of a proven quarterback makes it hard to elevate the Tigers above this spot. Five-star freshman Bo Nix could be Trevor Lawrence. He could be Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who struggled at UCLA.
17. Washington: Meet the weakest potential 12-0 team. Probable? No. Possible? Yes. Oregon, Utah and Washington State all visit Seattle.
16. Texas A&M: The Aggies are darn good, and also have the honor of playing the top three teams in this poll. Meet the best 8-4 team in college football.
15. Iowa: This ranking is about the offensive and defensive lines. Iowa has good ones, again, and enough skill at receiver and defensive back to win the Big Ten West.
14. Missouri: NCAA rules (for now) prohibit the Tigers from playing in postseason, but they’re likely to win 10 games without a bowl.
13. Miami: If Ohio State transfer quarterback Tate Martell is the goods, look out. The Hurricanes have the coach (Manny Diaz) and the talent on defense to make a deep run in the weak ACC.
12. Texas: The name Sam Ehlinger just sounds like a Texan, doesn’t it? Beat LSU at home to start the season, and Tom Herman will have all the attention he wants.
11. Florida: A year away. The Gators don’t quite have Georgia’s talent or Alabama’s quarterback. They also chose to play Miami and Florida State in nonconference. Too much.
10. LSU: Another very solid team, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, that has to plow through a brute of a schedule. The Tigers head to Alabama. That’s an L right there.
9. Utah: This could be the Year of the Ute in the Pac-12. Coach Kyle Whittingham will have one of college football’s best defenses, a returning quarterback and a manageable schedule. Don’t be stunned if Utah heads to Washington Nov. 2 undefeated.
8. Notre Dame: Trips to Georgia and Michigan — plus tricky home games against Virginia and Virginia Tech — make it unlikely the Fighting Irish run the table. This is a solid 10-win team for Brian Kelly, though.
7. Ohio State: Year One for Ryan Day and his revamped staff is one challenge. The real one is pairing a new staff with Georgia transfer quarterback Justin Fields. OSU will have a great defense. Offense? We’ll see.
6. Oregon: The Pac-12 is weak — really weak — and the Ducks could run right through it with quarterback Justin Herbert and one of the nation’s fastest, most athletic rosters. The season-opener with Auburn is key. Win that, and Oregon could be in the top five until it loses.
5. Michigan: A new spread offense, a rebuilt defense and no Urban Meyer. That’s how the Wolverines will win the Big Ten in 2019. But UM can’t afford a single loss, and the schedule is rawhide-tough.
4. Oklahoma: The Sooners are a good bet to make yet another College Football Playoff because of the relative weakness of the Big 12, a winning quarterback (Jalen Hurts) and a soft nonconference slate.
3. Georgia: UGA is the team that can wreck Alabama’s dreams. The Bulldogs have an absolutely brutal schedule — Notre Dame comes to town Sept. 21 and they drew Auburn and Texas A&M out of the SEC West — but are perhaps college football’s most complete team. With Georgia, it’s always whether the offense can come through when it counts.
2. Alabama: Nick Saban will have the Crimson Tide hungry and ready for vengeance against Clemson in January, and it’s pretty likely the two teams will meet. There might be one squad who can wreck Bama-Clemson Round 4 in the College Football Playoffs, but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is a Heisman frontrunner.
1. Clemson: The defending national champions may have lost the nation’s best collection of defensive linemen, but they return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence, to helm what could be — no exaggeration — a 50-point-per-game offense. The Tigers’ defense will be average because their offense will be out of sight.