SAM MCKEWON Omaha World-Herald
Know where to be, what to do, and most importantly, how to move on after a mistake. Don’t. Obtain. Restless.
Maturity – that’s what new Nebraska cornerback Tommi Hill needs, according to his coach. If Hill grows up in Husker training camp, NU defensive backs coach Travis Fisher can predict where Hill’s career is headed.
“He’s going to be an NFL player if he gets it right,” Fisher said on Husker Sports Radio Thursday night. “It’s one thing to say that stuff about kids before they actually get to work, but just the potential that I see in him – with his movement abilities – he just has to put everything in place to be that guy.”
Fisher called Hill, a 6-foot, 200-pound transfer from Arizona State, an athletic “monster” who fights too hard after a bad play. Competitors are like that, Fisher hinted, but college football evolves too much. fast in a time of no-caucuses offenses for Hill, or any other DB, to get stuck in their feelings.
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“That’s why Myles Farmer and Quinton Newsome are so important in the secondary,” Fisher said of his two returning starters from the Atlanta area. “Because they can help so much with that – making guys like Tommi, with that kind of talent, have the mindset of the guys who are here.”
Fisher said Newsome, 6-1, 180, will be pushed to the corner by Hill and Braxton Clark 6-4, 195 pounds, Fisher said, but it’s clear, both from spring camp and the upward trajectory of Newsome, that his job at NU high school seems secure.
Farmer – 6-3, 200 – may not have that luxury. He appears to be in a contest of at least seven safeties for a four-man rotation at the back. Fisher said he still wanted the luxury of being able to trade two tired safeties for two new ones.
“Being able to take two out and not lose a step — or even gain a step — that’s what I’m really looking for,” Fisher said. “Especially at this level, at the end of the game where teams are going to wear you down, and you need fresh guys and fresh legs.”
Over the past year, Fisher’s has moved from corner to safety both Marques Buford (5-11, 190) and Northern Iowa transfer Omar Brown (6-1, 195) in search of that ideal. They join junior college transfer DeShon Singleton (6-3, 205), Noa Pola-Gates (6-0, 180) and Alabama transfer Kaine Williams (6-2, 200) as the working front seven for four seats.
As a sophomore of fourth year, Pola-Gates remains a “step behind” Farmer in terms of reacting on the field and communicating with his teammates. Buford successfully trained in cornering and safety during his freshman year.
“A guy with an attitude,” Fisher said. “You want to put it somewhere in the field.”
Even though he played in Alabama last season, Williams needs to “acclimate,” Fisher said, at Nebraska, which is no “walk in the park” competitively. Williams can also play nickel.
Singleton played corner in junior college, started spring camp slowly at safety, but found his groove so quickly by the spring game that Fisher wished Nebraska had 15 more practices to make Singleton feel like he was there. ‘easy.
“He looked like a ‘Day 1’ guy playing that position in the spring game,” Fisher said.
Another safety, first-time rookie Jaeden Gould, snuck onto the field for a few extra reps from the spring game and made plays, Fisher said, after the coach benched him. An eighth safety, Westside graduate Koby Bretz, struggled with injury. A 6-foot-2, 165-pound ninth freshman, Jalil Martin, has been on campus for two weeks and needs to regain the weight he lost during track season. Fisher said Martin’s length and football intelligence made him another “monster” in the DB room.
“He can play both positions, and he’s going to be able to play them for a long time here,” said Fisher, who tends to talk about freshmen to remind veterans their jobs aren’t secure. “I think he’s the next NFL player.”
* Cornerback Javier Morton, like Hill, is a “monster” who needs to mature. Fisher sat down with Morton on Wednesday to tell him.
“He’s got muscles all over the place, works extremely hard,” Fisher said. “You have to mature. I have to mature in certain areas to help us this year. And he knows it – we talked about it yesterday.
* Gage Stenger, a graduate of Millard South, currently plays nickel and is smart beyond his years, Fisher said. Another nickel – Isaac Gifford, a graduate of Lincoln Southeast – has become more confident and capable.
“He hasn’t been here four or five years but, in terms of maturity, he acts like one,” Fisher said of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Gifford.
* A myriad of injuries and medical issues have sidelined nickel Javin Wright since arriving in Nebraska. Fisher expects Wright (6-5, 215) to be healthy for training camp.
“He does whatever the doctors tell him to do,” Fisher said.
The 2022 Nebraska Football Schedule