By Brian Rosenthal / Huskers.com
Among the initial signs football season is finally upon us – other than the ridiculously too-early preview magazines – is the arrival of conference media days.
The Southeastern Conference began its annual gathering Monday and will conclude on Wednesday. It’s the first conference to have its media days.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten Conference will convene in downtown Chicago on July 24 and 25 for the Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon. The East Division will meet with the media on that Monday, and the West Division, including Nebraska, will meet on Tuesday.
Nebraska, you may remember, declined to attend last year's media days after the sudden death of would-be senior punter Sam Foltz only two days beforehand.
The Huskers will then hold their annual Fan Day at Memorial Stadium on July 29, with the first practice of fall camp scheduled for July 30, nearly five weeks before Nebraska’s Sept. 2 season-opener against Arkansas State.
That’s an earlier start to practice than in recent seasons because under new NCAA rules, teams are now prohibited from having two-a-day practices. Nebraska typically had five such practices, meaning it needs some extra days to fit in all of its allotted preseason practices.
Young and upcoming
Since we’re on the subject of football, let’s throw a fun preseason statistic out there to discuss.
Dedrick Young II enters his junior season with 121 career tackles. That’s second most on the Nebraska career charts, behind only Barrett Ruud, who entered his junior season with 140 career tackles.
Ruud, the Lincoln native who played from 2001-04 and had a successful career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, remains Nebraska’s career tackles leader with 432 tackles. That’s 90 more than Jerry Murtaugh, who played in only three seasons (1968-70), before freshmen were eligible to play.
Nathan Gerry entered his junior season with 120 tackles. Murtaugh and Marc Munford each entered his junior season with 99 tackles.
Returning to the diamond
Then both players confirmed to the communications department what most assumed, that they’re returning to Nebraska for their season seasons.
Seattle selected Alvarado in the 13th round as a pitcher, and Tampa Bay took Schreiber in the 26th round. Alvarado had a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched last season, while Schreiber hit a team-best .330 with 51 RBI.
That means the Huskers will lose only one underclassman off last year’s roster to the draft. Jake Meyers agreed to terms with the Houston Astros in mid-June. He’s currently playing for the Astros' short-season Class A affiliate, the Tri-City ValleyCats, in Troy, New York.
Big Ten champs to unveil banner
The Nebraska volleyball team unveil its 2016 Big Ten Championship banner at its annual Red-White scrimmage, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Sports Center.
Fans can purchase tickets to the scrimmage for $10. Groups that purchase 15 or more tickets receive a discounted rate of $8 per ticket. Fans can purchase tickets here or by calling (402) 472-3111.
Tickets went on sale Monday morning.
Creighton game set
For the first time in 10 years, the Nebraska-Creighton men’s basketball game will be played on Saturday. The annual intra-state rivalry is scheduled for Dec. 9 at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
The game was moved from its midweek spot in part because Nebraska must accommodate two Big Ten Conference games in early December before hosting Kansas on Dec. 16. The Huskers also can't play the week before the Kansas game because of finals.
The early Big Ten games are necessary because the conference is playing its annual tournament a week earlier than normal, Feb. 28-March 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, so the regular-season conference schedule must begin earlier. Madison Square Garden also hosts the Big East Tournament the following weekend, when the Big Ten normally plays its tournament.
Unzicker garnering attention
In the past two months, incoming freshman outfielder Rylie Unzicker has hauled in numerous national honors in softball.
In addition to being named a second-team high school All-American for the second straight season by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, Unzicker was also named a first-team All-American by FloSoftball, a second-team All-American by Fastpitch News and a third-team All-American by USA Today.
She was one of only 48 players nationally – and the first player ever from the state of Nebraska – selected to participate in the Premier Girls Fastpitch High School All-American Game, which will air on ESPNU on Friday, July 28.
Unzicker was also selected as the 2016-17 Nebraska Gatorade Softball Player of the Year.
Former Husker dies
Condolences to the family of Adam Skoda, a Lincoln High graduate and former Nebraska linebacker who died Saturday after a battle with cancer, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. He was 42.
Skoda joined the Huskers in 1994 and lettered in 1995. He was serving as an assistant football coach at West Point-Beemer High School.
Reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.