When Scott Frost took to the podium this past Friday for his press conference to make the start of fall camp, he made it clear that tradition is king at Nebraska. Captains were selected a little differently when he was the head coach at UCF, but that’s not how things were done in Lincoln when Frost was in town previously, so out the door those ideas go.
For the Cornhuskers, the team votes on captains each season and Frost isn’t interested in seniority. If you can lead whether you're a true freshman or a fifth-year senior and you’re picked by your teammates, you’re in. I don’t know technically how many captains there will be, but I sure have an idea of some quality nominees.
It’s with that in mind that I go with a standard four and give you the presumed captains for Nebraska's 2019 season:
Adrian Martinez, QB, So.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way.
Suffice it to say what Nebraska’s offense can do drastically changes if Martinez isn’t in the game. If there’s a more annoying addendum to a football conversation than “unsportsmanlike conduct”, it’s “barring injury.”
However – wait for it – barring injury, Martinez gives the Huskers an opportunity to beat literally any opponent on their schedule.
Yes, that includes Ohio State (on potentially two separate occasions) not to mention Nebraska’s eventual bowl opponent. Of course, we’re assuming that the Huskers will finally reach a bowl game for the first time in three years, but like predicting Martinez being named a captain, it’s a pretty safe bet.
Matt Farniok, OT, Jr.
This could confuse some as you might look to Brendan Jaimes as the offensive tackle to get such an honor over Farniok.
However, the older brother of Will has apparently taken a more authoritative tone in the weight room, the locker room, and probably the Huskers’ man cave. Wherever football players congregate these days.
That’s great news because Jaimes has been nearly a sure thing from day one while Farniok has found himself lacking here and there. Both players had issues with defensive ends slipping inside and the good news continues as offensive line coach Greg Austin has apparently been laying mental cement in those cracks.
The big men up front need a representative, too and the hoss who gets the most attention should get the nod as captain.
Mohamed Barry, LB, Sr.
Another clear favorite is perhaps the best linebacker to wear a single digit for the Scarlet and Cream since Lavonte David. Barry proved himself an absolute maniac in 2018 leading the team with 112 tackles. That’s 29 more than second-place finisher Dedrick Young.
Not only that, but Barry also is a dynamic threat. He plugs holes in the run game, drops back to cover underneath routes, and defies offensive lines while getting comfortable in the opponent's backfield.
Barry isn’t abrasive or a trash talker. Anything but, really. He lets his work on the field speak for him which is unfortunate for the opposition as his play effectively has a megaphone attached and he doesn’t shut up.
Like Farniok and the offensive linemen, the Blackshirts need a fearless leader to carry their banner. Barry’s their man.
Damian Jackson, DL, So.
For a player that’s largely been relegated to special teams work, Jackson’s one of the most well-known members of the roster despite not blowing up stat sheets.
The former Navy SEAL isn’t just admired for his military service. When you break it down, aside from his professional wrestler-like physique, Jackson doesn’t much have the resume of a standard college football player.
He’s in his mid-twenties, has no real football experience to speak of, and truthfully, Nebraska’s taking a chance on him. However, he’s perfect for Scott Frost’s culture. Calling him a hard worker is a lot like saying a hurricane is somewhat inconvenient.
A textbook gym rat, Jackson is someone Frost can point to and say, “That guy can run through a wall, but you can’t?” Starters, walk-ons and everyone in between can be shown the light before the door thanks to Jackson’s work ethic and humility.
He’s more than arms that rival the size of steaks that tip over Fred Flintstone’s car, though. He’s generous with his time, he gives back to his community, and an all-around good egg. If that’s not someone a team might want to consider leading them through the gates of hell and back, I’m at a loss.