Nebraska Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far
The offseason is typically a quieter time. With only an annual spring game to point to, the news is often scarce during this time of the year. Not in Nebraska, though.
In fact, the 2014 offseason has been filled with breaking news. From I-Back Ameer Abdullah's decision about his future to a cat hoisted in the air, there hasn't been a dull moment for Bo Pelini and Nebraska fans.
And not all of the news has been serious either. That's provided Nebraska fans with a little fun. With under three months still to go, it's those out-of-the-box stories that have kept the offseason interesting.
What are the biggest 2014 offseason news stories so far? Read on to find out.
Ameer Abdullah Decides to Stay
The offseason had just begun when Ameer Abdullah made his decision. The tailback had a choice to enter the NFL draft, but he chose to return for his senior season instead, per a press release from the University of Nebraska.
To say fans were excited would be an understatement. Just looking at his statistics is enough to see why, per Mike Huguenin of NFL.com:
Abdullah led the Big Ten in rushing yards and was a first-team all-league honoree. He also was one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back.
He had a school-record 11 100-yard games this season, and his rushing total was fourth-highest in school history. He had nine games with at least 20 carries, and also had 26 receptions, giving him 50 in the past two seasons.
Needless to say, fans and players are ultimately thrilled with Abdullah's decision.
Monte Harrison Signs with the Milwaukee Brewers
Nebraska fans expected to wait. Similar to Bubba Starling, wide receiver recruit Monte Harrison had a choice to make—play Major League Baseball or head to college as a dual-sport athlete.
Harrison picked the MLB.
After being selected No. 50 by the Milwaukee Brewers in the draft, it only took Harrison a couple of days to make a decision. That was much different than Starling, who waited nearly two months to decide in 2011.
Harrison was a 4-star wide receiver, per 247Sports' rankings. Fans were anxious to see what he could contribute to both the Husker football team and the baseball team. Instead, he agreed to a contract and $1.8 million signing bonus, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com.
While disappointing for Nebraska, Harrison did ultimately spare the drama.
Drake Martinez Transfers
It's the end of the Martinez era at Nebraska.
With older brother and former quarterback Taylor Martinez graduated, Drake Martinez has decided it's time to leave Lincoln. As reported by Brian Christopherson of The Lincoln Journal Star, his departure was confirmed by Pelini.
Martinez was a redshirt freshman in 2013. The safety never officially saw the field as a Husker, only showing a small glimpse of what could be during the annual spring game. Health setbacks limited him, which made competing for a starting role more difficult.
The safety position is not slim by any means, allowing the Huskers to bounce back just fine from this.
Senior Corey Cooper and sophomores LeRoy Alexander and Nathan Gerry will handle the role just fine in Martinez's absence.
Randy Gregory's 2015 NFL Draft Projections
Early mock drafts are to be taken with a grain of salt. However, if they say anything, the 2015 mock drafts are saying that they love defensive end Randy Gregory.
Here's one from USA Today that predicts Gregory as the No. 1 pick, and here's another from SB Nation that pegs him the same.
Take that for what it's worth, but it did create a lot of commotion in Husker Nation.
The potential is there for Gregory. Pending no injuries, 2014 could be a very interesting season for the junior.
Josh Banderas Arrested
Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas found himself in a bit of a sticky situation during the spring. Alongside a member of the men's track team, Lucas Keifer, Banderas faced possible charges for the thefts of seven bicycles on the University of Nebraska's campus, per The Associated Press (h/t USA Today).
Pelini never publicly commented on the matter.
Damore'ea Stringfellow Transferring to Nebraska
Damore'ea Stringfellow was suspended from the Washington Huskies football team after an alleged assault, per the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. That's when the wide receiver decided it was time to transfer.
“I needed a new start, fresh start, and I feel like Nebraska was the best place to do so,” Stringfellow told the Omaha World-Herald. “It’s a great environment and a great school."
Pelini is willing to give Stringfellow a chance. "I think he will flourish in our culture we have here,” he said on Jim Rome's radio show.
Stringfellow will have to sit out for Nebraska in 2014, but Pelini knows the kind of player he can be in the future.
“I think the most important thing wasn't just my decision. He spoke to pretty much everybody he needed to here at the University as far at the athletic department - compliance, some of our assistant ADs, our dean of students,” Pelini told Jim Rome. “There were a lot of people involved on whether he was the type of person we wanted in our program.”
Bo Pelini and National Signing Day
Pelini got a lot of folks talking when he said he wouldn't mind getting rid of national signing day. The comments were made to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg:
If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it's over. That will stop some of the things that are happening - people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid.
Make [the offer] mean something. People will be like, 'Whoa, I've got to take this kid now.' It will slow things down for the kids, for the institutions. There will be less mistakes. Why does there have to be one specific day? And it will get rid of some of the stuff that goes on, kids pulling the hats and so forth.
Whether or not fans agree with Pelini, he created a lot of conversation, especially on Twitter. He's just keeping things interesting in the offseason.
Did Kenny Bell Shave His Head?
This really wasn't breaking news, but it was treated as such. On May 27, Kenny Bell tweeted that he had lost a bet that required him to shave his trademark afro.
From there, fans panicked. Even Pelini got in on Bell's big announcement, asking the Nebraska equipment staff to resize his helmet.
With Bell out of the country at the time, no one was positive the news was true.
Again, it may not seem like major news, but it's the offseason and it's Bell's hair. It definitely made headlines around the Cornhusker State.
Pelini and the Cat
In probably the biggest news of Nebraska's offseason, Pelini carried a cat onto the field at the annual spring game. In a moment no one expected, he hoisted a cat into the air at the end of the tunnel walk for all to see.
Twitter exploded in that moment. The video became a must-see. Pelini and the cat were even on SportsCenter.
Needless to say, Pelini knows how to win the most-talked-about spring game competition.
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