April 24, 2007

Five biggest surprises to come out of spring ball

As the Nebraska football team prepares for summer conditioning, several different surprises came out of spring practice.

Maybe the biggest surprise to come out of spring ball was the emergence of junior quarterback Joe Ganz. This spring was the first time Ganz took significant reps with the No. 1 offense, and he definitely proved he was worthy of them.

How well Joe Ganz came along at QB

Heading into spring practice, most expected senior Sam Keller to walk away with the starting quarterback job. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Keller has all the physical tools you would want in a quarterback for running a pro system.

However, as spring practice moved along, junior Joe Ganz not only battled right with Keller, he out performed him on some days. As Nebraska heads into summer conditioning, most will tell you Keller has the edge for the starting quarterback job, but Ganz is not far behind him.

Going into his fourth year in head coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense, Ganz knows the playbook as well as any player on the team. Ganz has been with Callahan since day one, and that experience showed in his play this spring.

The thing about Ganz is he won't win you over with his big arm or 6-foot-1 frame, but he will win you over with his guts and determination. You really have to tip your hat to Ganz for what he accomplished this spring. Out of high school Ganz's only other option besides Nebraska was Eastern Michigan, so for him to go blow-for-blow with an accomplished quarterback like Keller shows you how much he's developed during his time in Lincoln.

Bryan Wilson's emergence at safety

This spring everybody expected senior Tierre Green and sophomore newcomer Larry Asante to lock down the two starting safety jobs for Nebraska.

Sophomore Rickey Thenarse was another player mentioned in the conversation to win a starting job, but nobody brought up senior Bryan Wilson's name. However, as spring practice came to an end, the 6-foot-1, 200 pound Wilson now finds himself as the No. 1 strong safety, but he has the versatility to play both positions.

Wilson looked like a whole new player in the Red-White game. He had a physical presence on the field and there's no question he should be in the mix for heavy playing time this fall.

Safeties coach Bill Busch said what stands out about Wilson to him is the lack of mental errors he makes on the field. It's clear that Wilson has come a long ways since his first play as a Husker in the Maine game where he was burnt deep for a touchdown back in 2005.

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