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  1. 2011 Aug 16

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Sensational Starling Puts an End to Bubba Watch 2011


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? Okay, maybe not for everyone.

    Late Monday Night, Bubba Starling ended his flirtation with Nebraska athletics for now, at least when he signed a three-year contract, $7.5 million contract with the Kansas City Royals. The money and length of the contract’s irrelevant. What’s interesting is that Husker Nation was glued to Twitter and other parts of the Internet for “Bubba Watch”.

    By not signing with Kansas City, he could’ve become the guy who bucked the Royals for his love of college athletics and a chance to be the big man on campus. Instead, he followed the money and Scott Boras has another feather in his cap. To be honest, it’s rather disappointing.

    This wasn’t just about the Nebraska football team, mind you. Yes, offensive coordinator Tim Beck would’ve loved to plug him into a very talented, yet young offensive backfield with Taylor Martinez, Jamal Turner, Rex Burkhead and others.

    For better or worse, Bubba signed off on attempting to be a stud in Werner Park in Omaha, taking the trip down I-29 in Iowa and leading the Royals back to greatness in the American League’s Central division.

    Oh, but what could’ve been in Lincoln? Much like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. There’s a chance that Bubba could come back at the end of the deal a la Florida State’s Chris Weinke circa 2000. Unfortunately, the fact is that many fans have soured on the thought of Bubba playing.

    Some feel that Bubba is nothing but an overblown version of current Nebraska wide receiver and outfielder Khiry Cooper. Cooper is different, though. He was a project from the start. As Husker fans found out, Khiry hasn’t gotten a much opportunity on both sides of I-80 to show his football and baseball prowess for one reason or another.

    Bubba is the orange to Khiry’s apple in terms of comparison. He would be an immediate difference maker on the baseball field and he could make a run at the starting quarterback job this season. Right away? Probably not considering he’d missed a fair amount of time in fall camp.

    However, the necessary concepts of an offense that Beck claims is simpler to understand would likely have taken hold by conference play. If Martinez struggles in 2011, having Bubba waiting in the wings would’ve provided the Cornhuskers with a safety net.

    With Starling’s departure, Beck’s quarterback roster is set. Taylor doesn’t have to worry about another freshman phenom behind him. Brion Carnes and Ron Kellogg now become the official challengers to Martinez’s throne. The decisions of recruits Tommy Armstrong and Devin Fuller now carry even more weight for this cycle’s recruiting class, too.

    Many fans dismissed this entire affair as Scott Boras milking the Royals for every penny. That could’ve been the case, but at the same time, the Starling family didn’t need the money as a motivating factor.

    Jimbo and Deb Starling are great parents. With their support and that of sister Jamie, the decision became tougher for Bubba. He’ll get his college degree no matter what, you can bet on that. It’s hard to think that Starling could’ve made a bad decision with a family and support system like he has. You can’t blame him for going, but it would have been exciting with him around.

    Fare thee well, Bubba Starling. Tear it up in Idaho Falls, Wilmington, Springdale and Omaha. Husker Nation will still be watching.

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    Tags: bubba starling

  2. 2011 Aug 15

    Husker Heartbeat 8/15: Starling's Decision, a Defensive Duo and a Two-Sided Linemen


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - It's time for Bubba Starling to make his decision: Nebraska or the Kansas City Royals

    - Antonio Bell has been making the most of his switch to defense

    - Safety Austin Cassidy is proving his worth to the defense

    - Former Husker Henery makes a solid duo with former Florida Gator Chas Henry

    - The two sides of the NU line

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    Tags: bubba starling, alex henery, austin cassidy, antonio bell

  3. 2011 Aug 09

    Husker Heartbeat 8/9: Pelini and Mr. Starling, Beck's Trudging Troops and Jamal's Juggling Positions


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Pelini and Bubba Starling's father dispute report

    - Tim Beck's troops are trudging on despite the pain

    - Jamal Turner is splitting time between QB and receiver

    - Corey Raymond will be keeping a close eye on calls made against his charges

    - Two Husker corners help make up the Big Ten's best

    - Big Ten preseason camp roundup

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    Tags: bubba starling, tim beck, jamal turner, corey raymond

  4. 2011 Aug 08

    Husker Heartbeat 8/8: Big Red Youth, No Doubting Dennard and a Sophomore Leader


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Young Huskers could shake things up this fall

    - There's no doubting Alfonzo Dennard

    - Seven Cornhuskers who could put the nation on notice

    - Redshirt sophomore Sirles looks to lead fellow linemen

    - Starling continues to mull his options

    - Nebraska/Iowa needs history not hype

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    Tags: jeremiah sirles, iowa, bubba starling, alfonzo dennard

  5. 2011 Aug 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Huge Questions Surround 2011's Fall Camp


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    For Nebraska football fans, there’s no better time than the first week of August. Players return to Lincoln, helmets and jerseys are issued, physicals are taken and fall camp finally commences. Big Ten Media Days have come and gone. Pundits have published their pre-season polls. Now there’s actual work for the Nebraska football program to do that counts heavily towards the 2011 season.

    Some early storylines as we embark on the start of yet another year of college football:

    Bubba Watch 2011: it's become a tense summer for fan bases in the Midwest waiting to see who flinches first between Team Bubba led by Scott Boras and the front office of the Kansas City Royals. There’s no question that the Royals want Starling, but it’s interesting that he's been in Lincoln for almost three weeks. He’s been going to school and participating with the team, too.

    The start of fall camp will only ratchet up the pressure on both the Starling camp and the Royals’ front office. There’s no doubt that this’ll come down to the last moments of Monday, August 15 with plenty of monetary figures being thrown out and finally the ultimate decision. The longer that Bubba is in Lincoln bonding with coaches and players, the tougher it’ll be for him to say goodbye to his peers and shift gears entirely.

    It's a question of whether Bubba wants to be the "Head Man on Campus" or spend two to three years toiling in a baseball farm system. Either way, there’ll be a number of eyes on him. Unfortunately, one group of fans is going to be incredibly upset.

    The Maturation of Taylor Martinez: According to several media outlets, player comments and what Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini stated this week in Chicago, quarterback Taylor Martinez has made some big strides this offseason. From being the shy freshman that was seemingly very tense both on the field and sidelines to a more vocal leader who has opened up to his teammates and the media.

    His mid-summer interview with Dennis Dodd of CBSSportsline.com was surprising and very refreshing. Martinez was open and forthcoming about his relationship with Pelini, especially in regards to last year’s controversial Texas A&M game. To lead his team to a Big Ten championship and BCS bowl game, Martinez must continue to mature.

    His health is also a concern considering the ankle and turf toe issues that hampered him from the 2010 Missouri game onward and seemed to give him a sense of vulnerability. He’ll take his lumps with the rest of the team this year. Should he stay mentally tough, show he's learned from his past mistakes and has the trust of his teammates and coaches, there may not be a better dual-threat quarterback in the Big Ten conference and possibly the nation.

    The Tim Beck Experience: To help with Martinez’s maturation as a confident starting quarterback, newly-appointed offensive coordinator Tim Beck has been given free reign in Lincoln allowing him to display his offensive creativity. Beck has allegedly followed Pelini's request of having a simple system that focuses more on reaction to a play as opposed to several decisions. Martinez isn’t the only weapon that Beck has to throw at opposing defenses, either.

    Junior running back Rex Burkhead spearheads a powerful rushing attack accompanied by freshmen Aaron Green, Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah. Newcomer Jamal Turner appears to provide an electrifying x-factor. Martinez also has multiple talented receivers in Turner, Brandon Kinnie, Kyler Reed, Quincy Enuwna, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste.

    Beck’s playbook may be heavily diversified, but what will set this offense apart from last year will be how it develops during the season and if it can form an identity. This is something that Nebraska has lacked during the tenure of former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.

    The Pipeline: If there was a bigger frustration last year than the roller coaster season that Martinez endured, it was the play of Barney Cotton's offensive line. This year figures to be far better due to the return of two familiar faces to aid him: John Garrison and Brenden Stai. The line’s youth doesn’t help matters with 27 offensive linemen dotting the roster and only four being seniors. What the unit lacks in age, they make up for in talent.

    Center Mike Caputo and offensive tackle Marcel Jones are proven leaders of this group. Players such as Ryan Klachko, Jeremiah Sirles, and Brent Qvale have the size and strength to make a big impact. This is the year that Nebraska fans are hoping that with the depth and coaching available, the offensive line makes a return to its punishing ways of Nebraska’s glory days.

    Replacing Alex Henery: Perhaps the most glaring absence on the Nebraska roster is that of All-Everything kicker Alex Henery. He left Nebraska as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and the school’s leading scorer. The Cornhuskers have two capable replacements in Brett Maher and Mauro Bondi. No matter who wins the race to start, he will no doubt be measured to not only Alex’s standard, but that of kickoff specialist Adi Kunalic who made a living off of his amazing ability to rack up touchbacks.

    Secondary turnover: Gone is stud cornerback Prince Amukamara, but Alfonzo Dennard returns to take his place. Secondary coach Corey Raymond takes over an experienced unit, but needs to find replacements for Eric Hagg and DeJon Gomes. Ciante Evans, Antonio Bell and Anthony Blue will all take a shot at filling the empty space that Dennar’s shift leaves.

    At safety, Austin Cassidy and the hard-hitting Courtney Osborne look to take over. This defense could quite possibly be one of the Pelini brothers’ best. For this to happen, the secondary needs to continue the same quality of play that they have for the past two seasons.

    Expectations abound: With the move to the Big Ten, a new offense and a defense with a great track record, there are multiple reasons for Husker fans to be hopeful for the 2011 season to be a return to excellence. However, with higher expectations, there’ll be more eyes on the program than there’s been in a good decade. Last year was considered a wasted season with no Big 12 title and an embarrassing bowl loss.

    If Bo and company can’t learn from history, they’re doomed to repeat it. Every play of each game will be available to a national audience for the first time in the program’s history. There are plenty of things that should give fans hope, but there are a number still of question marks for this team.

    Can Martinez become a true game manager? Will Tim Beck’s offense make life easier for everyone? Can a defensive line with a great player like Jared Crick cause other players step up and become a more efficient defense against the inside run? Can LaVonte David play to a level similar to last year? How will this team react to playing in the most hostile of Big Ten envrionments?

    There are a number of factors that will define the season but a quote from Bill Parcells that was articulated 30 years ago still rings true today. “You are what your record says you are. Nothing more and nothing less.” Buckle in, folks. It’s time for another wild ride.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: taylor martinez, tim beck, bubba starling, barney cotton, alfonzo dennard, ciante evans

  6. 2011 Jul 26

    Husker Heartbeat 7/26: NU Dominates the Polls, Starling Stays Focused and the Team's GPA Rises


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Nebraska's Crick tops player poll

    - Unofficial poll likes Nebraska vs. Wisky in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game

    - Nebraska looks like the Bigfoot of the Big Ten

    - Bubba Starling staying focused on Nebraska's football program

    - The Huskers excel on and off the field

    - The speakers for the Huskers Athletic Fund Luncheons have been set

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    Tags: jared crick, big ten, bubba starling

  7. 2011 Jul 23

    THE OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 7/23: Who's Under Center? - A Quarterback's Podcast


    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring ONLY questions asked by you, the Husker Locker fan base.

    - We run through all incoming Cornhuskers and discuss redshirting probabilities
    - Will Taylor Martinez bounce back and become a household name in 2011?
    - Will a freshman quarterback start at Nebraska for the second year in a row?
    - Bubba Watch 2011 gets broken down to the nuts and bolts

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or a message to any of us on Twitter.

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:

    Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: taylor martinez, bubba starling, podcast, podcasts

  8. 2011 Jul 13

    Husker Heartbeat 7/13: Starling's In Lincoln; Bad News for KC, Crouch Returns to Football and Martinez is Considered Elite


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Starling's presence in Nebraska is only bad news for the Kansas City Royals

    - Answers about Bubba are hard to come by

    - Former Husker Eric Crouch officially returns to football after signing with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks

    - Taylor Martinez is considered one of the best QBs in the Legends division

    - Is the Big Ten purposefully trying to put the hurt on the Huskers?

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    Tags: bubba starling, eric crouch, taylor martinez, big ten

  9. 2011 Jul 08

    Husker Heartbeat 7/8: Starling Heading to Lincoln Undecided, The Horror of Academic Scandal and Cody Green a USC Trojan?


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Starling still mulling his decision between Nebraska and Kansas City

    - The "horror" of academic scandals

    - Cody Green considering Southern California as a transfer destination

    - Nebraska's seven best offensive players

    - A statistical look at rivalry and the Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Tags: bubba starling, cody green

  10. 2011 Jun 15

    Husker Heartbeat 6/15: Former Husker Recovering, Pelini & Martinez and the Tunnel Walk


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Former Husker Tony Veland wounded in shooting

    - Point/Counterpoint: Pelini & Martinez

    - There are swings and misses for quarterbacks, too

    - Which tradition is better: Ohio State's "Dotting The 'I'" or Nebraska's Tunnel Walk horseshoe smack?

    - Jimmy Boy's Big Ten Picks: Where does Nebraska rank?

    - Huskers offer a 2012 transfer to watch

    - Nebraska softball finishes No. 21

    - Husker trainer to be honored

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    Tags: tony veland, bo pelini, taylor martinez, cody green, bubba starling, ohio state, softball

  11. 2011 Jun 13

    Husker Heartbeat 6/13: Bubba's Choice, the Big Ten Marriage and Cody Green's New Home


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Nebarska/Big Ten marriage: An anniversary to remember

    - Choosing baseball or football not so easy for dual-sport athletes like Starling

    - His chances at stardom? 50-50

    - Another look at Nebraska's 2011 season including their big win and big loss

    - A&M and K-State among Cody Green's potential new homes

    - Denard Robinson looking forward to the Blackshirts' challenge

    - Former Husker Crouch wants to take Nighthawks to the top

    - Nebraska baseball gets a taskmaster in Erstad

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    Tags: big ten, big 10, bubba starling, eric crouch, denard robinson, cody green, darin erstad

  12. 2011 Jun 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Picking Between T-Magic or a Starling in the Making


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Something is gnawing at me. Last week on Twitter, people were fawning over Taylor Martinez in the morning then hoping that Bubba Starling would become a Husker instead of signing with the Kansas City Royals later on in the evening. This seems extremely selfish to me.

    I see myself as an optimistic realist. I hope for the best but easily accept what the outcome of things will likely be and live with it. With that said, this is how I see the possible quarterback race for the 2011 season:

    If you’re a Taylor Martinez fan, you want Bubba Starling to sign that piece of paper to be a Kansas City Royal immediately. There are plenty of people on each side of the fence when it comes to Martinez. Some are for him starting at quarterback with no questions asked. Others think that there should be open competition for the position and Taylor wouldn’t turn out to be the best candidate even with only Brion Carnes pushing him.

    Ron Kellogg and Tyson Brokemeier are nice additions, but out of the four signal-callers only Brion will push Taylor for the starting spot. What about Jamal Turner you ask? He’s a possibility, but I keep feeling that he's not going to slip under center until the depth chart panic level gets to DEFCON 3 or worse. Then you bring in Bubba and the whole situation gets a little murky.

    Let's say for the sake of argument that Bubba is enrolled at Nebraska on August 16. This means that he's staying in Lincoln, bucking the money from Kansas City’s system and will be dropping anchor on both sides of I-80. Of course should Bubba stick around, it's obvious to me that he’s the better overall quarterback on the depth chart immediately.

    He’s not the best thrower (Carnes) and not the fastest (Taylor), but looking at overall talent and brainpower, he's more than likely going to separate himself further from the pack. Am I sure of this? Not totally, but a kid that goes top five in the MLB draft isn't a slouch, folks.

    Taylor will have the benefit of knowing the playbook at the start of the season and that should give him the edge out of fall camp. As time goes on, why wouldn’t Bubba and/or Brion won't have opportunities to shine? What happens when another South Dakota State or Texas performance rears its ugly head or an old injury reemerges?

    Martinez is growing up, though. He’s made some good decisions during the offseason, but there’s a difference when you have a few months to figure out how to handle a situation and 48 hours as the season demands.

    If you’re buying a No. 3 jersey then you want Bubba to sign. If you’re for open competition and want to see what everyone can do, you don’t want him to sign. Of course there are those that ask, "Why can't we have both?" You could but that means someone has to sit on the bench.

    Would you choose to redshirt Bubba and then only get him for a potential two-year run or risk Taylor bolting to the west coast where a school like UCLA could use him in a nanosecond?

    This doesn’t mesh well unless one of them makes the decision to move positions and I believe it would be Martinez moving to receiver. He’d be a good wide out especially considering he'd take the punishment and sell out going over the middle. He’d work well on special teams, too, but would he be willing to accept this if it would be the best for him and the team?

    On the other side of the coin, let's say that Bubba signs with the Royals. Taylor starts all season long and the Cornhuskers have a season similar to the last where they had chances that couldn’t be capitalized on. Consider what would happen if a stud quarterback comes into the fold with the 2012 class and add a year in Beck’s system for Carnes, Kellogg and Brokemeier.

    The competition only grows. Does Martinez step up and what happens if a stud JUCO transfer enters the mix? A number of questions will spring up from another nine or 10-win campaign during a year where Nebraska practically has the Big Ten title for the taking and lost out due to not being able to capitalize again.

    This scenario reminds me of 1998 when Bobby Newcombe and Eric Crouch fought for the starting spot. Bobby could run, but Crouch won out as the better thrower and decision-maker. During the first two-thirds of the season, many felt that Frank Solich had made the wrong decision. The choice justified itself over the next three years, however.

    Tim Beck and Bo Pelini have the same assessment to make soon because once Bubba commits, there is no turning back. You can't have it both ways, Husker fan. Neither quarterback will sit on the bench for long before the rumor mill starts swirling. If you think that it was bad during the week following A&M last year, imagine what happens when two high profile athletes are thrown into the mix.

    If you want a great player, then praise the competition that each athlete would give each other. Hijack Scott Boras when the deadline comes. If you want to live and die with Taylor, get Bubba a pen and a Storm Chasers hat.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: taylor martinez, bubba starling

  13. 2011 Jun 10

    Husker Locker Podcast 6/10: NCAA Annihilations


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

    - What's next for Bubba Starling?
    - Where will Terrelle Pryor end up?
    - NCAA laying down the law. Seriously.

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail.

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Greg: @thehooch36
    Erin: @helloerinmarie

    Like us on Facebook: The Official Husker Locker Facebook Page

    Tags: bubba starling, terrelle pryor, ncaa, podcast, podcasts

  14. 2011 Jun 08

    Husker Heartbeat 6/8: No NU on BTN?, Game Times Announced and Starling's Reaction


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - A TV dispute may force games off the air for some

    - Husker football game times announced

    - Big Ten Legends Division Preview: Nebraska

    - Crick makes Playboy's Best

    - Starling happy to be drafted by Royals...but is the battle over?

    - Mickey Joseph named interim coach in Oklahoma

    - Phillies draft Asche in fourth round

    Tags: bubba starling, mickey joseph, big ten, big 10

  15. 2011 Jun 07

    Husker Heartbeat 6/7: Starling Gets Royal Treatment; Will He Be in Lincoln or Omaha?


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Bubba Starling selected No. 5 overall by the Kansas City Royals

    - Will Bubba be in Lincoln or Omaha?

    - Summer camps can be a useful recruiting tool

    - Cornhusker walk-on Broekemeier's Shrine Bowl performance isn't surprising

    - Is Nebraska a powerhouse in the making?

    Tags: bubba starling, tyson broekemeier

  16. 2011 Jun 06

    Husker Heartbeat 6/6: Starling's MLB Home, Cooper Chimes In, and NU D-Line is Tops


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Who will pick up Bubba Starling? Examine the draft order

    - Will big green beat Big Red for Starling? Not necessarily write OWH's McKewon

    - Nebraska's Cooper not affected by draft status

    - Five recruits ready to make an impact for the Big Red

    - The Big Red's defensive line is the Big Ten's best

    - Huskers have a rock in Darin Erstad

    - Big Ten title games set for a while

    - Big Ten baseball could be better than you think

    Tags: big ten, big 10, bubba starling, khiry cooper

  17. 2011 Jun 03

    Husker Heartbeat 6/3: The Bubba Plan, Erstad in "Pictures" and a Big 12 Eulogy


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Nebraska has "The Bubba Plan" set and ready to go

    - New head baseball coach Erstad keeps a line open to Starling

    - Erstad through the years

    - Ex-Husker sees "wow" factor in new NU baseball coach

    - Nebraska's almost officially a member of the Big Ten, so the Big 12 eulogizes the Cornhuskers

    - Huskers football's outlook in-conference appears positive in 2011, so who will they beat in the Big Ten?

    Tags: bubba starling, darin erstad, big ten, big 10, big 12

  18. 2011 Jun 02

    NEBRASKA BASEBALL: Darin Erstad’s Hire is a Swing for the Fences


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Several names were brought up for consideration concerning the new skipper of Nebraska baseball following Mike Anderson’s firing. Many were familiar and some even close to home such as Creighton’s Ed Servais. In the end, a member of Nebraska’s own 2011 staff would take up the mantle of head coach.

    Darin Erstad has an impressive athletic resume. He has conference and national championship rings to go with the one that he picked up after winning the World Series. A former No. 1 overall MLB draft pick, Erstad made a solid living in the majors as a three-time Golden Glove winner and two-time All-Star selection. It’s not athletic ability that fans are questioning but rather his lack of head coaching experience.

    It was hard to listen to Erstad’s first press conference as head coach and feel like he won’t be giving every ounce of effort. He’s got quite a few aces up his sleeve when you consider his overall standing in the baseball community and what young prospect wouldn’t enjoy a visit from a guy with Erstad’s background? If nothing else, a recruit would have a great time just talking shop.

    He proves doubly useful when considering Nebraska athletics as a whole. Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini looks to be going after a number of prospects who play both football and baseball. The well-known Bubba Starling has an excellent relationship with Erstad already. If the Cornhuskers bring quarterback prospect Jameis Winston in for a visit, Erstad knows the drill.

    Regardless, Erstad’s a reach hire, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad one. He’s simply a gigantic question mark at this point. The assistant slots on the staff is where things get interesting. It appears that Texarkana College head coach and former Cornhusker Will Bolt will take over one of those roles.

    He was great as a player for Nebraska and as a member of the staff he did some very impressive things assisting with the coaching of infielders and hitters. Nebraska posted a .975 fielding percentage in 2004 thanks to Bolt. If he’s part of Nebraska’s next baseball staff and another hire of equal value can be made, Erstad will have a much easier time learning the ropes.

    The slate’s been wiped clean and in two years, Erstad might be looked at as the best hire that Tom Osborne could’ve made. However, a good deal weighs on just who will be on his staff. Erstad has already been very generous to the university as he donated one million dollars to aid the renovations to Memorial Stadium in 2004. Will he bring back a winning baseball program? Stay tuned.

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker

    Tags: darin erstad, bo pelini, bubba starling, jameis winston

  19. 2011 Jun 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Starling’s Choice Very Familiar for Two Major Leaguers


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brett Baker

    On one side, there’s a passionate fan base that knows the game of football as well as anyone without a helmet or headset.

    On the other, there’s a fraternity of legends like Ruth, Mayes & Ripken. These names are woven into the fabric of the American sporting conscience.

    What does a young man do when both want him to be one of their own? When both offer to open the doorway to where dreams become reality? What does he do when either option is the pinnacle for most?

    If Malcolm was in the middle, then Bubba is in between. “Bubba” being All-American quarterback, pro baseball prospect and Nebraska recruit Bubba Starling. With the MLB draft looming on June 6, the time for him to make a decision is rapidly approaching. Will it be the Huskers or professional baseball?

    It’s a position that very few ever experience. Red Sox All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford knew it, though. Crawford spurned Nebraska after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999, but there have been others, like Scott Bream and Matt Esquivel.

    10 years before anybody in Nebraska had heard of Crawford, Bream was setting the standard for tri-sport excellence at Millard South High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Second team All-State quarterback, point guard for the undefeated state champs & a shortstop with major league potential, Bream had his choice of opportunities.

    Notably scholarship offers to Nebraska (football) & Creighton (baseball) with the knowledge that he’d be selected in the 1989 Major League draft. “Being recruited for both football and baseball and the prospect of being drafted, the scouts being there, it was a very exciting time.”

    12 years later and nearly 1,000 miles south of Omaha, Matt Esquivel found himself in a similar situation. The San Antonio MacArthur High School standout was an all-state running back and on the radar of the big leagues as a power hitting outfielder. He was also on the Cornhuskers’ radar.

    “After I finished that (Nebraska football) camp I got called into coach Solich’s office and he sat me down and said ‘There’s a full ride on the table here for you.’ and I just remember being overwhelmed because I hadn’t even begun my senior year yet.”

    Both Bream and Esquivel acknowledge that their experiences were different from Starling’s if only because the glare of the media spotlight wasn’t nearly as bright then as it is now. “I know there’s a lot of pressure on Bubba and the decision that he’s going to make.” Bream said.

    Drafted in third round by San Diego, Bream spent ten seasons in the minor leagues before hanging up his cleats for a clipboard. Now a scout for the Padres, he says the best thing Starling can do is not rush into a decision. “I hope he’s enjoying this time because it’s only going to happen once.”

    Esquivel was drafted in the fifth round by Atlanta in 2001. That was about five rounds before he thought he would actually be selected. That proved to be the tipping point for choosing baseball over football. Esquivel said, “It just opened my eyes to what the people at the pro level thought of the potential that I had in me. So that made my choice for me.”

    Starling will soon be forced to make the same choice. “The one thing he knows is that he’s going (in the draft) and he’s going to go high,” Bream said. “I’m sure he’s already thinking about where he wants to end up next year. There are going to be huge dollars thrown at him and certainly that’s going to be a factor.”

    Both say that it may come down to Starling listening to his head over his heart. “I grew up going to Husker games.” says Bream. “Had season tickets, loved the Huskers, but at the end of the day I knew baseball was where it was going to end up.” Esquivel was just as practical. “I chose baseball over the college route because I felt like I had a better opportunity for myself to make it to the big leagues before making it to the NFL.”

    After spending six years in the Braves system, Esquivel is now with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. While he says would make the same choice if he had it to do over again, he does admit that he still thinks about what it would have been like to play at a place like Nebraska. “I can’t say that I’ve really gotten over the idea of going back and playing football.”

    Bream, who now calls Phoenix, Arizona home takes a different look at what could have been. “I certainly followed the Huskers, and I do to this day, but I didn’t look back and tried not to say ‘What if?’”

    That’s a question that Starling won’t have to face until he answers the one that Husker fans have been asking for months: What’s next?

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas

    Tags: bubba starling, scott bream, matt esquivel

  20. 2011 May 26

    Husker Heartbeat 5/26: Bubba Starling Coming to Lincoln; Will He Stay?


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Bubba Starling will be in Lincoln come July

    - Mike Anderson's firing won't impact Starling's decision

    - Nebraska is testing the quarterback market

    - Nine things on the Cornhuskers' summer to-do list

    - Nebraska is causing a seismic shift in college football

    - With an unclear future, NU assistants help lead the baseball club

    - Is Nebraska's coaching and recruiting in balance?

    Tags: bubba starling, mike anderson

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