Gregory bids to get bigger and better

LINCOLN, Neb. – Randy Gregory doesn’t like to talk about his goals -- or his weight.

Rest assured, Nebraska’s All-Big Ten defensive end thinks plenty about both, drawing motivation from the bid to add size and improve upon a breakout sophomore season to fuel his efforts this spring.

Gregory collected 10» sacks and 19 tackles for losses last fall in his first season at Nebraska out of junior college. He’s likely to gain preseason All-America recognition.

For now, Gregory is concerned only with bettering himself.

“You always have something you can work on,” he said Wednesday after the third of 15 Cornhuskers practices this spring.

Coach Bo Pelini said Gregory has a chance to be a “great player” in Lincoln. Last season, though, the coach said Gregory was so raw he “didn’t even know what he didn’t know.”

“He’s a lot better football player these first three days than he was a year ago,” Pelini said. “I think he’s more comfortable than he was a year ago. He’s more technically sound. He’s getting bigger. He’s getting stronger.

“He’s got a lot ahead of him and a long way to go to reach what he can be.”

At 6-foot-6, Gregory dipped to about 230 pounds at the end of last season. He said he wants to play next season at close to 250. He’s added weight since January, but he declined to give a number.

“It’s going up,” he said. “The coaches are pleased with what I’m doing.”

Gregory is a picky eater, he said. He avoids pasta and gets full quickly. Even as he works to add weight in the offseason, he said, he’s not getting enough calories.

But he remains confident he’ll hit his goals -- on the scale and on the field.

“The goal is to be on the field as much as possible,” Gregory said, “so if I’ve got to put on weight to do that, that’s what I’ve got to do.”

Other news and notes from Nebraska’s practice on Wednesday:

  • Safety Harvey Jackson and defensive linemen Tobi Okuyemi and Jay Guy will not return to the team, Pelini said, after graduating prior to next season.

  • Junior cornerback Jonathan Rose, playing with the top defense opposite Josh Mitchell, was held out of practice on Wednesday because of a class issue, Pelini said. Redshirt freshman Boaz Joseph saw increased time in Rose's place. “I thought Boaz did a good job. Believe me, he’s got a long way, but I think he’ll learn a lot from the reps that he got.”

  • Jamal Turner, after working at quarterback in the first two practices of spring, took reps on Wednesday only at receiver, the position he’s played for the past three seasons. Turner struggled at QB on Monday, but Pelini said the senior remains an option at both positions. “He’s worked at quarterback before,” Pelini said. “He’s a receiver that we could have a package for if we choose to.”

  • Sophomore receiver Jordan Westerkamp sat out as protocol after banging his head on the turf on Monday.

  • Colorado transfer Alex Lewis, a junior, has shared time with freshman David Knevel as the first-team left tackle. The 6-6, 290-pound Lewis started 12 games with the Buffaloes in 2012. He was not with the Huskers in the fall because of legal issues but has made his presence felt quickly this week. “He’s picked things up pretty good,” Pelini said. “He plays with a good motor. He has experience, which obviously helps. He likes to compete, which is a good thing.” On Wednesday, as Nebraska donned full pads for the first time this spring, Lewis and Gregory got especially competitive in drills. Gregory described their matchup as a “battle” and spoke highly of Lewis. “He’s got the body for it. He’s built for the position. He can move.”