vedral

Nebraska’s Noah Vedral is now holding on field goals and extra points for the Huskers.

LINCOLN — The interview subject was holding for place-kicks.

The interviewee, of all people, was sophomore Noah Vedral. Why of all people? Well, he’s Nebraska’s No. 2 quarterback, behind Adrian Martinez.

But the last two weeks he’s done some holding as well.

“That was kind of a blast from the past,” Vedral said on Monday.

He’s in his third collegiate season. He redshirted last season, playing in one game, after transferring from Central Florida, where he was the top back-up to McKenzie Milton as a true freshman.

Vedral hadn’t been a holder since Wahoo Neumann High School.

Injuries to place-kickers have forced a shuffling of roles, which is how Vedral has found himself doing some holding the last two games.

“There’s a lot more pressure on you now,” he said. “In college, there’s actually a way to do it. In high school, they just say, ‘Go hold,’ and you kind of hold.

“Now there’s a technique and stuff, so they’re teaching me that stuff. But it was fun to hold. It was fun to have a role on the field that mattered . . . it was good.”

Vedral already had a role that matters a great deal, of course. It’s just not on the field. Being the top back-up quarterback “may be the hardest position to play in all of sport,” said quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco. “He understands that he has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

Vedral showed he’s ready. With the Northern Illinois game under control, he played quarterback in the fourth quarter, scoring the final touchdown on a 3-yard run.

It was the second touchdown of his Husker career. He ran 20 yards for the first against Bethune-Cookman, his only game appearance last season after receiving a transfer waiver from the NCAA in mid-October, on the day before the game at Northwestern.

Vedral also completed 3-of-5 passes for 30 yards against Northern Illinois.

“It was good to see Noah play a little bit,” Verduzco said. “Any time you’re fortunate to have that happen, it was good to see him in there and operate . . . (he) looked pretty smooth.”

Though he hadn’t taken a snap in the first two games, “I felt ready,” said Vedral. “It felt good to be behind center and to know what I was doing, to be prepared to be completely . . . settled.

“I thought the 2’s did a really good job. I thought they executed really well.”

Following Thursday’s practice, Scott Frost echoed Verduzco’s praise of Vedral.

“I feel great about Noah Vedral right now,” Frost said. “He’s practicing at a really high level. I think he could come in and win games for us . . . Noah runs and operates our offense really well. The tempo is great with Noah in there. The decisions are crisp. A lot of that has to do with his time in our offense.

“This is his third year of running this, and he’s as familiar with it as anybody.”

Vedral accepts his back-up role, but that doesn’t diminish his competitiveness.

“I think you’re kidding yourself if you’re not still trying to compete,” he said. “I think Adrian knows that competition is healthy, it needs to be there.

“Now that I’m two, I kind of get to focus on competing with him. So I’m pushing him, trying to catch him every day in practice. It keeps him sharp, keeps me sharp, so make sure there’s no lag if something were to happen, God forbid. It keeps that competition fresh and alive, keeps both of us sharp.”

Vedral’s attitude reflects those of all of Nebraska’s quarterbacks, according to Verduzco.

“For example, Andrew Bunch, I mean, he’s been tremendous,” Verduzco said. “And I can understand, you know, the sense of disappointment. But he’s been tremendous. He asks questions in meetings. He’s attentive. He helps Luke (McCaffrey). He helps the rest of the guys during practice and during games. So the attitude of the group has been nothing short of tremendous, under penalty of death if it wasn’t.”

Verduzco laughed as he added that last part.

Bunch is a junior who considered transferring after last season, when he started one game and played in five as the top back-up to Martinez. McCaffrey is a true freshman who enrolled early and went through spring practice. He’s listed third on the depth chart, behind Vedral, though “obviously, the plan is to redshirt him,” said Frost. “But I’d like to see him get his feet wet.”

The quarterback room also includes redshirt freshman Matt Masker and true freshman Brayden Miller, like Bunch, walk-ons. Masker and Miller are both from Kearney.

“All those guys should be learning from each other,” Frost said. “They’re good friends, so I know there’s a healthy competition and friendship.”

Vedral could even give them some insight into holding for place-kicks now.

Mike Babcock is a long-time Husker reporter and editor at Hail Varsity Magazine.

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