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As Nebraska kicks off spring camp, Matt Rhule likes Huskers’ work ethic and quarterbacks

Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule speaks during a news conference after a football practice on Monday at Memorial Stadium.

At the start of his first spring camp, Nebraska football coach Matt Rhule doesn’t know if his team is any good but he does know they’re pretty coachable.

That was Rhule’s declaration Monday after an early-morning practice that even the coach admitted wasn’t his cup of tea. He only got three hours of sleep the night before. Players all made it to the building by 5:15 a.m. and dressed to practice outside.

“A lot of it, for us, is just about establishing standards,” Rhule said. “We want to be a team that doesn’t beat itself … everyone knew their assignments.”

The four scholarship quarterbacks available in spring camp — Casey Thompson and Logan Smothers are nursing shoulder injuries — “threw the ball well.” They also threw the ball outside in the pre-dawn wind. Rhule said Husker quarterbacks won’t spend much time throwing inside, given the need to execute in difficult weather conditions during the season.

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“That’s as talented a quarterback room as I’ve ever been a part of,” Rhule said.

Kearney Catholic graduate Heinrich Haarberg is part of the room, and senses a “renewed energy” inside the program with a new coaching staff after a “hard” 2022. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Satterfield, Haarberg said, works the QBs footwork and mechanics a lot more than previous coordinator Mark Whipple. Satterfield’s approach, Haarberg said, is closer to that of former quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.

“I got a sense that this is a place, with this staff, where I could thrive,” Haarberg said. “… This staff gave me more confidence to come back and keep me here in Lincoln.”

For now, that’s at quarterback. Haarberg said he’s open to moving positions if that’s what coaches think he should do. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder said he thinks he could play “most positions” on the field, including defense, if necessary.

Rhule specializes in projecting players to different positions, then convincing them to give a try. Already in camp, receiver Janiran Bonner has moved to hybrid tight end role, Brodie Tagaloa has moved from offensive line to defensive end, and Jake Appelget, previously an edge rusher, has been working at tight end, as well.

The Huskers need more tight ends in part because Chris Hickman and James Carnie left the program. So did defensive back Tyreke Johnson. Cornerback Tommi Hill didn’t practice, Rhule said, and running back Anthony Grant is suspended as he works out off-the-field issues

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