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Husker QB Luke McCaffrey transferring after pushing for starting job in 2020

Husker QB Luke McCaffrey transferring after pushing for starting job in 2020

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Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett discuss the Journal Star's wide-ranging Friday interview with Nebraska football coach Scott Frost, what's ahead for the Huskers this offseason and the latest on the Nebraska men's basketball team's lengthy pause in team activities due to a COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Luke McCaffrey experiment in Lincoln is over. 

The Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback entered the NCAA's transfer portal on Tuesday, the Journal Star confirmed. 

NU coach Scott Frost said last week that he has consistently communicated with McCaffrey since the Huskers’ season ended Dec. 18.

During an extensive interview late last week, Frost did not want to delve deeply into McCaffrey’s status, but by that time knew that the quarterback was not on campus for the beginning of winter conditioning. It appeared, perhaps, that McCaffrey would opt out of that part of the schedule due to concerns about the coronavirus while remaining enrolled in online classes.

Frost, though, was adamant he thought McCaffrey could make a push for the starting quarterback job in Lincoln. 

“His improvement in throwing the football from Year 1 to Year 2 and his control of the offense is going to give him a chance to be a really good player, a special player around here,” Frost said. “If he continues on that path, I expect him to be an elite guy. If it ever got to the point where he wasn’t the guy, he’s a really good athlete. …

“I believe in Luke McCaffrey and that hasn’t changed. I’m excited about what he’s going to be at Nebraska.”

Instead, McCaffrey will be going elsewhere. 

McCaffrey acknowledged his transfer and said he agonized over the decision since the end of the season. 

"After struggling with this decision for weeks, I have decided to enter the transfer portal and explore my options," McCaffrey tweeted Tuesday. "I am thankful for the support Nebraska fans have shown me. I have so much love for my coaches and teammates from my time here. I am excited for the future."

McCaffrey’s older brother, former Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, opted out of the 2020 season in September due to concerns about the pandemic and just last week, shortly after UM began its spring semester, he entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Now Luke McCaffrey has done the same, making official his transfer within days of the spring semester at UNL beginning. 

When a player enters the transfer portal, the school can cut off the player's financial aid, but not until the end of the current semester. 

The question now will be how McCaffrey's market develops as he looks for another school.

The youngest in a family of football royalty, McCaffrey originally picked NU over many options because Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco believed in his ability to develop into a high-level quarterback.

McCaffrey pushed junior Adrian Martinez for the starting job leading up to the 2020 season and then eventually supplanted Martinez, starting two games before handing the reins back to him.

McCaffrey struggled to throw the ball efficiently in 2020, finishing the season with one touchdown against six interceptions on 76 pass attempts. Overall at Nebraska, he completed 64.8% of 88 pass attempts for 608 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.

That was far from the entire story as it pertained to McCaffrey’s production. He's rushed for 364 yards and three touchdowns in 2020 and averaged 6.0 per carry over 11 total games in Lincoln.

“It’s really not fair because if you have a slow guy that misses a pass, everybody just says, ‘Step into your target a little better.’ If you’ve got a really good athlete that misses a pass, they say, ‘Oh, you should be playing safety,’” Frost said Friday. “I’ve been through that and I’m not doing that to Luke. We recruited him and we believe in him. We not only want to keep him at quarterback, I want to give him a chance and an opportunity to compete for the job.”

McCaffrey missed Nebraska's final game of the season at Rutgers. McCaffrey made the trip with the team and went through warmups in uniform — although he did very little actual throwing — then took off his pads and was in street clothes during the game.

Afterward, Frost said the team brought McCaffrey along even though he was dealing with an undisclosed injury because, in part, they wanted extra players signaling in plays from the sideline to keep Rutgers and former Husker quarterback Noah Vedral from picking up on the play calls.

His departure leaves three scholarship quarterbacks: Martinez, freshman Logan Smothers and freshman Heinrich Haarberg, who arrived on campus this month.

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


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