Last week at practice, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before: freshman tight ends Kurt Rafdal and Austin Allen together.
While I’ve noticed both players plenty of times, there was something different as I watched them stroll out of practice side by side. Aside from their height being muted as they stood next to each another — Rafdal is 6-foot-7 and Allen is 6-8 — it was clear from their interaction that they honestly are friends. Sure, they spend a lot of time together at football practice so they’re probably bound to hang out a bit off the field. But this looked genuine.
On Tuesday, freshman defensive tackle Deontre Thomas spoke to the media for the first time as a Huskers player. You could tell he was nervous. Even at 6-3 and 280 pounds, having a lot of cameras and microphones in your face can be overwhelming.
He wasn’t alone, though. Standing behind him were teammates DaiShon Neal, Khalil Davis and Carlos Davis. When the trio felt that Thomas didn’t fully answer a question or that he had sold himself short, they’d chime in. Khalil even made sure that everyone understood just how hard Thomas has worked to be here. And in thanks, Thomas praised his “three big brothers” behind him.
You even see it with the coaches, as cornerbacks coach Donte Williams and defensive line coach John Parrella poke fun at one another over energy drinks.
Friendships and their impact on a team are hard to quantify. It’s subjective, because who’s to say any team before this one didn’t have the same types of relationships.
These bonds don’t instantly make a team more successful. I know that. Talking about them also is a bit eye-roll inducing when the team isn’t winning or living up to expectations.
However, what they do create is hope that when the going gets tough, things won’t fall apart. And that’s something I think Nebraska fans have been hoping for for quite some time.
You’d hope Allen and Rafdal will still be there walking side by side, win or lose. And Thomas will still be surrounded by his support system as he navigates everything that is new.
Maybe losing would change this dynamic, but I’m not betting on it.
The post On the beat: Nebraska football friendships difficult to quantify, but they’re real appeared first on Land of 10.