LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska returned to spring practice on Monday after a 10-day break with a workout that pleased coach Bo Pelini.
“I thought the tempo was pretty good,” Pelini said after the ninth of 15 spring practices that culminate April 12 with the Red-White game at Memorial Stadium. “I thought the recall was pretty good. Like I told our guys, we’ve got to pick it up and finish up the spring the right way.”
Pelini spoke publicly for the first time about the recent sentencing of junior offensive lineman Alex Lewis to 45 days in jail and two years of probation. Lewis, who transferred to Nebraska from Colorado last year, was convicted of misdemeanor assault for his role in a fight that involved an Air Force cadet last May in Boulder, Colo.
Lewis plans to serve the sentence after the spring semester ends in May. He was not allowed to join the team at Nebraska until January, conditions set by the school’s administration, Pelini said.
“He obviously made a mistake,” the coach said. “He’s paid dearly for that and he continues pay for that mistake.”
Lewis has “exceeded all expectations” since his arrival in Lincoln, according to Pelini.
“He’s done well academically,” Pelini said. “He’s done what he’s had to do away from football. And since he joined us in January, he’s done everything we asked of him. That’s all a kid can do.”
The terms of the sentence surprised Pelini after Lewis reached a plea deal in December that eliminated two felony charges.
“From the kid’s standpoint,” Pelini said, “you make the best of it and deal with the hand you’re dealt. I know he’ll handle it the right way.”
Lewis has taken hold of the top spot at left tackle in spring practice. Even before work began on the field, he earned the respect of his new teammates.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. said he was impressed in January as Lewis joined the quarterback in film sessions.
“He was ready to work,” Armstrong said. “I tried to put my hand on his shoulder and say, ‘Hey, I’m here for you. You going to block for me next year or in the future. I’m going to have your back. You’re going to have my back.’”
Other news and notes from Nebraska practice on Monday:
Junior center Ryne Reeves practiced on Monday after he was hospitalized on March 19 following his injury in a drill. Reeves suffered from pain in his neck. “He checked out OK and felt good,” Pelini said. “I think the week off obviously helped him.”
Nebraska’s four-man combination at I-back continues to draw notice. The addition of redshirt freshman Adam Taylor to a group that already features the nation’s top returning rusher, Ameer Abdullah, in addition to Imani Cross and Terrell Newby, has caught the attention of many. “We have a stable of running backs that I feel great about,” Pelini said. “We’re going to have to use some of our ingenuity.” Offensive coordinator Tim Beck continues to consider options with multiback sets. “A lot of guys who can do a lot of different things to help us,” Pelini said. “It’s a good problem to have.” Count Abdullah among those happy with the depth. Taylor and Newby are “way ahead of where I was coming in,” Abdullah said. “I didn’t really consider myself a running back coming in. I was so raw. The game slows down so much as you get older.”