There’s been a renaissance at the quarterback position for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Not only have the Huskers officially stepped into the era of the passing quarterback — a taboo subject not long ago — but dangerously effective dual-threat signal-callers. Adrian Martinez set the bar incredibly high for himself last season, let alone any others at his position. There’s plenty of room for the depth chart to be fleshed out, however.
Last season saw Martinez beat out Tristan Gebbia for the starting role. Gebbia would then promptly transfer to Oregon State. This left Nebraska with the talented true freshman and a precarious depth chart featuring walk-ons Andrew Bunch and Matt Masker. Transfer Noah Vedral was waiting in the wings, but his eligibility status was up in the air.
Martinez would be briefly forced out of action following the Colorado game due to an ankle injury sustained thanks to the post-play actions of Buffalo linebacker Jacob Callier. The talent disparity was apparent as Bunch struggled in an eventual loss to Troy the next week. As Martinez healed up, he’d go on to finish the season with 2,617 passing yards 17 touchdowns, and eight interceptions along with 629 rushing yards and eight scores on the ground.
Bunch was rarely called upon again, playing in only five total games, while Masker never saw time. Vedral was eventually declared immediately eligible to play and would see reserve minutes versus FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. At the end of the season, Nebraska fans saw the future of the position in Martinez who set record after record and only further fed the hype.
Key Departures: None
Key Returnees for 2019: Adrian Martinez (So.), Noah Vedral (So.), Andrew Bunch (Jr.)
Make no mistake, this is Martinez’s team. However, there’s talk around the program that Vedral isn’t going to sit back and let the California native keep his spot without putting up a fight. Incoming freshman Luke McCaffrey looks to add further depth, already having impressed head coach Scott Frost. During the 2019 National Signing Day press conference, he remarked, "Luke [McCaffrey] was one of our top guys on our board from the beginning. He’s a type of kid who’s not afraid of competition. I can’t believe how quickly he’s come in here and learned stuff, how hard he’s been working and how excited he is."
Bunch is the biggest question mark and the quarterback room is starting to get crowded. Walk-on Brayden Miller joins the team this year and the Huskers already have their quarterback for the 2020 class lined up in Logan Smothers from Athens, Alabama.
A university spokesman confirmed that Bunch was entertaining a transfer last December. If he’s not looking to crack the top two — a notion that appears probable — expect him to leave for greener pastures following the spring.
Position Grade for 2019: B
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces). To contact him with tips, story ideas or for interview purposes, click here.