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April 26, 2017

Nathan Gerry interview

Welcome, everyone, to the Carriker Chronicles -- the people’s show -- where we’re bringing you the pulse of Husker Nation. Today I am joined by Mr. Nate Gerry. This guy earned First Team All-American honors according to Pro Football Focus. He’s earned multiple All-Big Ten honors as well as First Team 2016 Big Ten honors, according to the Associated Press. He’s two-time defensive Big Ten Player of the Week, and Nebraska defensive co-MVP in 2014, and the guy will undoubtedly be drafted at some point this weekend.

Adam Carriker: Nate Gerry, how ya doin’?

Nate Gerry: I’m doin’ fine, thanks for having me.

AC: Thanks for coming on. I’m going to hit you right out of the gate with the biggest question that popped into my mind right away when I found out we were going to be doing this little chat: targeting. Talk to me about the targeting rule: your penalties and your thoughts on it.

NG: Man, I’ve heard this way too many times. I think it’s obviously a rule that needs to be implemented in the football game. Nowadays people are bigger, faster, stronger and you know that’s what all these coaches are implementing in recruits, and how you get recruited and things like that. Just the danger of football is obviously increasing but that’s just part of playing football. I think that there’s more targeting than is called, and you’d know just as much as I would being in the trenches. You’re banging heads, 24/7 every play. I think I got kind of screwed a couple of times but I guess someone’s going to have to be the lesson there, and I guess I’ll do it. I was pretty upset with it, especially in the bowl game. I was very upset in the Iowa game just because nobody likes Iowa and we wanted to take down the number three team in the country at the time, so I was pretty upset with getting booted from that game as well.

AC: You’re absolutely right: nobody likes Iowa and you did get screwed. You had every right to be upset, so I’m with you there. But the draft is Thursday, so where have you been training, how have you been getting ready and prepared for the Combine, the Senior Bowl, and now the draft?

NG: I’ve been in Lincoln. I was in Lincoln for a couple of weeks, right before Pro Day, right after I got back from Indianapolis. I was working with a trainer who I worked with when I was in high school, his name is Christopher Slatt. He lives in Lincoln now. He’s got me right for numerous years. I’ve been training with him in Lincoln, and then fortunately I came back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota about a week and half ago. Being able to come home, spend time with my family. I’ve got a little niece, so I’ve been able to hang out with her. I’ve been working out in a football facility; my dad is the head athletic trainer there so it’s nice to be around football players. I’ve got a couple of buddies who play there, and I’ve been sitting in watching some film and watching practice with those guys. It’s been a blast being here.

AC: Have you heard any rumors as to where you might go? It’s hard to project what round, but maybe what team, or what round if you have any idea what teams have shown interest?

NG: I think right now for me, all that stuff’s up in the air. This past week or so I’ve been on the phone quite often just talking with teams all across the country. I think every team I talk to has kinda mentioned to me that I’m pretty versatile, and that’s what a lot of them are looking for. They’ve got a couple of guys in their own facility who think I can play middle linebacker, but then again a couple of guys in the facility think I can play safety. I think it could come down to who’s left on the board, what teams need and things like that. I’m seeing it as a positive so far, being able to be versatile. I’m just hoping for the best.

AC: Do you have any pre-draft, pre-Senior Bowl, pre-Combine stories you could share with the folks at home? Any behind the scenes you could share with us?

NG: I don’t know if I have any of those, honestly. I’ve been trying to stay behind the scenes a little bit, you know. I haven’t been doing anything extra; I’ve been doing the same things that got me to have a successful career at Nebraska. Just being able to get that one opportunity; you know, Coach Bo believed in me and gave me a scholarship, and that’s kind of what I’m banking for here, is just having one person, one team believe in me. You give a young kid hope and belief, and you can run with it for a while, so that’s what I’m shooting for.

AC: Do you have any stories from your time at Nebraska maybe you could share with the folks. Anything there that would be all right to share on the show?

NG: (laughs) Man, I got a lot of stories, honestly, but to pick one is pretty tough. I think the people of Nebraska, the friends that I’ve made, the teammates that I’ve made -- that’s one of the things I’m going to remember the most. We had guys like you yourself, former Blackshirts, come in and talk to the defense. One thing I always picked apart from your year is that each guy comes in and says that they miss the memories inside the locker room. Being away from football and being away from Nebraska for a couple of months now -- that’s kind of one of the things that kind of hits home a little bit; you know, I miss the guys. Being able to wake up every morning and see them. Right now I don’t really have any set schedule, so I kind of feel lost a little bit. Just being able to take those friendships, and those teammates, and just move on because that’s where we’re going to be in the future.

AC: You talked about Bo, and Bo giving you a chance, and you were there during that transition from Bo to Riley. It’s no secret that it wasn’t the easiest transition in the world, but talk about that. Talk about what it was like going through that for you.

NG: Like you said, it was tough. It was kind of a 180 turn from going from Coach Pelini to Coach Riley. The mind-sets are different, but in the end the goal is always the same. For me, it was tough. I was going into my junior year; I wanted to be a leader of the team, so I tried to stick my nose into things. Ask some coaches a lot of questions, just so I could get a head start on things and being able to help the team move faster in the progress. It was tough for me, and it was tough for a lot of guys, actually, just wanting to play football and being unclear about playing football. That’s the way I play football: I’m pretty knowledgeable on the field. If I don’t really know what’s going on 100%, the style of play slows down a little bit. That’s kind of what you saw from the Blackshirts in 2015. We weren’t as fast as we were last year. It was tough but I think towards the end of the year, after we beat Michigan State, going on after that we grew a lot. We faced a lot of adversity and I think that’s what’s built our relationship with the team and we grew, and that’s why I think we were a pretty productive team this past season.

AC: Watching you run around on that field out there, you clearly like to work out; you’ve got a pair of guns on you. I’m curious: what are some of your favorite workouts? What are some of your favorite lifts you like to do?

NG: Oh yeah. Obviously the biceps and triceps -- you know that! Anything “beach body,” I guess. I’m all about biceps and triceps. One thing that’s kind of grown on me since being in college is the Olympic lifts. I like power cleans and snatch/cleans; stuff like that. One of our former Blackshirts Jack English, he’d like to call it “movin’ weight” and that’s one thing we like to do in the weight room: move a lot of weight. That’s what we do with those Olympic lifts. That’s a lot of fun and brings a lot of energy to the football field. That’s one of the lifts I really enjoy.

AC: Talk to me, because when I went through, training for the Combine was completely different than training for football. Was it different for you? Was it fairly similar? How was the Combine training for you compared to when you were lifting and working out at Nebraska?

NG: Oh, it was night and day. At Nebraska, for example, we did a lot of Olympic lifts. Some of those are kind of stressful on the body and the joints and things like that: being able to pull and then catch weight. That puts stress on your joints. Working toward the Combine, we did a lot of bench workouts, because there’s a bench press test at the Combine. We didn’t do a lot of movements that put a lot of stress on our joints or anything like that. We’re trying to stay as healthy as possible because performing and not performing at all are two different things. We’re just aiming to go there healthy and just do the best we can.

AC: I always thought that getting ready for the Combine actually killed me playing football because it was just like getting ready for a track meet, and obviously that’s not what football is. I know you’re a former track guy yourself.

AC: So this next question I wrote it down, I debated whether to ask it, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Being ruled out of the Music City Bowl versus Tennessee, talk to us about what took place there. The floor is open to you to address that question, however you’d like.

NG: I was pretty bummed out about it. I had a plan for all of my senior year on what I want to do in the future, and the future to me was that I wanted to be an NFL football player. I was taking classes and I wanted to be able to stay in Lincoln my senior spring, so it would’ve been this semester. I didn’t have many credits left, so I kind of shortened my credits up in the fall where I could focus more on football, then ended up coming three credits short, missed an online class and ended up within a group project and kind of fell a couple days behind, me and a buddy did, and one of our TAs allowed us to ask our peers if we could turn our work in late, because it was a group project. They allowed it, and then a couple days later we got an email back saying it wasn’t fair to other students, so I ended up coming three credits short. I was hurt, my teammates were hurt. I ended up buying my own plane ticket, flew down to Nashville on my own. Being able just to be there and show faith, I think I helped some of the guys. At the end of the day I wasn’t responsible when it came down to that, that aspect. Like you said, I was really bummed out, to miss my last collegiate football game of the year, or my career, at Nebraska. That was the thing that hurt me the most.

AC: You talked a little bit about Mike Riley and the progress from year one to year two, guys playing faster this past season then they did the first year he was there. What are the expectations you have for the staff going forward, for the team, the program going forward the next couple of seasons?

NG: I’ve sat in on a couple of meetings. I went to a couple of practices under Coach Diaco, and saw nothing but great things. I think that Nebraska fans around the country should be just excited for the next year to come. I think Diaco’s got a great mind-set; I think that he’s pushing these guys to another level. The positive energy you see out of there. . . Coach Diaco, Coach Williams coming in; I just think they’ve got a bunch of teachers, and the connections they have with the players is going to help push them to another level. The best part about is that Coach Diaco came in to a real young but a very talented defense, and I think with his help they’re going to be real good in the future. As of right now, I think they need to find a couple of leaders. We’ve had a lot of seniors on the team, and they need to find a couple of leaders and I think that will come during summer workouts and then spring ball. Fall camp is going to be a huge improvement for this season.

AC: There’s a possibility that you could play in a 3-4 defense in the NFL. Do you have a preference if you play in a 4-3 or a 3-4, and your thoughts on the Huskers moving to a 3-4 defense this year?

NG: I don’t really have a preference on if I play in a 4-3 or 3-4. I played 3-4 when I was in high school; I played 4-3 in college. I think it’s a nice change-up for Nebraska. We haven’t seen it in who knows how long, Nebraska fans haven’t seen that in a while. You see a lot of teams translate over into that 3-4 defense, especially in the Big Ten. Wisconsin ran it, we’ve gone up against some of those defenses who do it, so I think it’s not only going to help the defense but think it’s also going to benefit our offense where they could be able to practice against that style of defense throughout the year. We’ll be able to see both sides of the 4-3 and 3-4. It’s not only going to help the defense, but it’s also going to benefit the offense.

AC: Last question I’ve got for you, and then I’ll let you go. Do you have a surprise player, maybe most people aren’t aware of, that we should be keeping our eyes on for next season, whether it’s offense, defense; anybody we should be watching out for?

NG: Yeah -- Tanner Lee. I think he’s the answer to Nebraska football right now. With the addition of Coach Diaco, he’s going to get him right. Having Tanner Lee calling the plays in the huddle I think is going to open up a lot of eyes. He made a lot of plays against our defense last year on the scout team. Coming in on short notice, he’s built a leadership role where a lot of kids bought into him. A lot of kids listen to him. The ball is in his hands, so I think this year is going to be very exciting.

AC: He was just named our starting quarterback, so that’s got to be exciting.

AC: Be sure to tune in on Fast Friday, Husker Nation. Tomorrow is the draft; I’m going to give my draft story, my memories from the draft. On Monday I’ll break down the Huskers, such as Nate Gerry, and where they ended up. Until Fast Friday, GO BIG RED and always remember ...