Nebraska coach Scott Frost delved into a variety of topics during a one-hour radio appearance Wednesday night. None were as serious as the health of an assistant and longtime friend.
Outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt won’t be a full-time participant in spring practices as he works through a form of throat cancer, Frost said on “Sports Nightly.” Dewitt’s condition is why NU got a waiver for a couple of graduate assistants to get out and recruit during last month’s contact period.
Most important, though, is the long-term outlook for the Milwaukee native, husband and father of three.
“He’s an important part of what we’re doing, an important part of what we’ve done,” Frost said. “He’s fighting a good fight right now. The diagnosis is pretty good. I think it’s a high-percent chance that it’s a curable type of cancer. He’s going through the necessary things to try to win it and he’s got all of us behind him.
“We’re rooting for him and we’re going to get by without him. I know he’s gonna want to be out there and do everything with the team and he’s going to do as much as he can. But he’s got more important things on his plate right now.”
Asked about another off-the-field issue with the legal situation regarding running back Maurice Washington, Frost said he “can’t talk much about it” as the process unfolds. He said it should be a reminder to players that they stand for more than themselves.
“It’s disappointing to me any time the team or the university are represented in a bad light,” Frost said. “So I’ve been disappointed in everything. But I’m hopeful that the process moves quickly and there’s some clarity shed on the subject for us real soon.”
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Other notes from Frost's interview:
» Redshirt freshman Cam Jurgens will also be a candidate to play guard — not just center — as he makes the transition from tight end. The 6-foot-3 Beatrice native is already up to 286 pounds after hovering around 245 last year.
"I think that's a natural position for him to play guard, center or guard," Frost said. "He's so explosive, he's one of the best blockers on our team and that would have been his strength if he'd have stayed at tight end. But we're going to be able to use him a lot more with him playing inside on the offensive line."
» Defensive backs have made major strides in the offseason and the 2018 class has been a big part. Cam Taylor is "going to be a leader for us," Frost said, while others are working back from injuries. Braxton Clark (shoulder) will be involved in spring ball while CJ Smith will have to "wait a little bit" as he recovers from a knee injury against Northwestern. Cam Jones (injured in fall camp) is "killing it" in the weight room and will have a chance to show what he can do.
Meanwhile, the secondary members have changed the opinions of strength coaches in the offseason.
"They talk about their least favorite group to work with last year might have been the DBs," Frost said. "They say this year that their favorite group to work with is the DBs. I think Lamar (Jackson) is a great example of that. He's a guy that's really figured some things out last year and by the end of the year was playing at a really high level. He's a great team guy now; he's working hard. Got all the talent in the world and he's kind of an example of the turnaround in that room."
» Asked whether the Nebraska defense will ever resemble the 1990s Blackshirts, Frost said football has changed since then. He looks at yards per play as a better metric than opponents' total points or yards.
» Early enrollee and true freshman Wan'Dale Robinson will play the "majority" of his time at receiver, though he'll also line up in the backfield on occasions.
» Frost noted that the starters on offense in 2020 could all be the same as in 2019.
"I think there's a chance that we could be playing with the same 11 guys for two straight years, which is hard to do in college football," Frost said. "I can't wait to watch the improvement of that whole group."
» Matt Farniok, who started at right tackle last season, could play four spots on the offensive line going forward, Frost said.
» Frost was asked about the early Heisman hype surrounding sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez and said he has the potential for major success.
"My hope is when he leaves Nebraska, that he's thought of as one of the all-time greats at the position," Frost said. "In fact, I hope he's thought of as the greatest to ever play at Nebraska at that position. I know if you asked him that question, all he would talk about is team, and that's the way I want him to think. If our team does well and our offense does well, then the best players on that offense are going to be in line for a lot of recognition."