Nebraska Football: Tommy Armstrong Prepared to Be Leader the Cornhuskers Need

Erin SorensenContributor IAugust 4, 2014

Olivia Foster, 2, of Eagle, Neb., watches as Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong signs her football during the annual NCAA college football fan day in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Nebraska goes into the 2014 season looking to become relevant again nationally. The Cornhuskers finished 2013 outside the Top 25 for the first time since 2008, and they haven't ended a season in the top 10 since 2001. This year Wisconsin and Iowa are picked to finish ahead of the Huskers in the new West Division. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Tommy Armstrong is prepared to be the leader the Cornhuskers need. At Nebraska's Fan Day press conference, the quarterback wasn't shy to say so.

During his time at the podium, Armstrong reflected on the 2013 season and the need for him to be a leader going forward. He also acknowledged he was a little in over his head at times last season. It wasn't until his ankle injury during the Iowa game that it all began to click.

"I think it slowed down for me a lot after getting hurt and being able to sit and watch a little bit and see it all starts off with me," Armstrong said. "As much as I want to panic sometimes, you don't have to do that. Have trust in your teammates, and everything will fall in place."

When pushed a little further on what exactly shifted his thinking, Armstrong continued to credit his injury.

"I think I needed the injury, honestly. That kind of gave me a reality check, like nothing is guaranteed," he said. "You can't just go out there and just play. You actually have to put in the work. I think last year, I struggled in areas I could have fixed, but I felt like it was going to happen. I think this year, I did a better job actually going out there and trying to fix them."

Since then, Armstrong has used his time on and off the field to build his confidence. He spent time with former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who provided some insight to the sophomore.

"(Favre) helped me out a lot," Armstrong said. "As far as just preparing for games and how to look at film, what to mainly look at."

From there, it's been all about working with the other Huskers starters. Armstrong says that time has built chemistry between him and his teammates.

"Being around with the ones, it helps me get that chemistry down," Armstrong said. "Being able to be that leader on and off the field and make the team stronger because anybody can settle for just being good, but we have to strive for being great."

While the chemistry grows, Armstrong has had to learn to not be so critical of himself. It's a point offensive coordinator Tim Beck has had to remind him of.

"Coach Beck always tells me, 'Don't be your biggest critic, and don't go out there and be hard on yourself all the time. That's our job,'" Armstrong said. "I try not to do it, but sometimes I do it anyway."

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

In addition to the injury and his fellow teammates, there is one specific person who has motivated Armstrong to become a better leader. That person happens to be a very beloved Nebraska running back.

"Ameer [Abdullah] told me that [I] was one of the reasons he came back this year. That really touched me that a veteran guy like that would tell me that," Armstrong said. "That made me strive to be the best leader I can this year."

During his time at the podium on Fan Day, Armstrong sounded more confident than ever. The expected starter didn't shy away from any topic and was very forthcoming with his answers.

The key message that Armstrong delivered? He wants to be the leader that the Huskers need.

After a win over Georgia in the 2014 Gator Bowl and a successful offseason, it appears Armstrong is on his way. With fall practice beginning, he knows it's now time to walk the walk.

There are bound to be some remaining growing pains for the sophomore, but fans can take comfort in Armstrong's demeanor. After all, if his confident attitude off the field transfers to the field, he truly will be the leader Nebraska needs.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand at Nebraska's Fan Day press conference.