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We’ve seen flashes from Nebraska’s tight ends of what they can be in Scott Frost’s offense, and it appears they are doing everything this spring to take the next step.

In 2020 the Huskers had a very productive season from their top three tight ends, led by junior Austin Allen. Jack Stoll declared for the NFL draft this off-season, but the Huskers will be led by a solid core in Allen, junior Travis Vokolek, true freshman Thomas Fidone and third-year freshman Chris Hickman.

This off-season you’ve seen tight ends coach Sean Beckton and offensive coordinator Matt Lubick exhaust all angles to find more ways to get the tight ends involved in 2021.

“I spent a lot of time watching the tight end play across the country whether it’s college or the NFL,” Beckton said. “One of the good things about Coach Lubick is he wants you to bring information to him. I made a cut-up of some of the really good tight ends across the country, (Kyle) Pitts for one, down in Florida, how they’re using that guy.

“Because we got guys that can really catch the ball and can really get open. We’re going to implement some of those things as we’re going along in the spring and you should expect to see those guys get the ball vertically a little bit more, and then also in a quick passing game get the ball out to those guys too. We’re excited about where we are with that position going forward.”

Of that group, it appears Allen has put himself in a position over the last year not only to be a leader on this football team in 2021, but also a tight end at the next level.

“Austin (Allen) has been unbelievable,” Beckton said. “He’s actually been the one guy on the offensive side of the ball that’s really, really taken the leadership role. When we didn’t get it done early on (in Wednesday’s scrimmage), you heard him and that’s what I wanted out of him and Travis(Vokolek). I had to nudge Travis a little bit to get the rest of those guys going a little bit but you heard him.

“I really, really get on those guys as far as getting things going, as far as being able to execute on the practice field with the right mentality and the right focus. I’m very proud of where he’s taken himself as a player, for one. He’s going to be an NFL player if he continues on the path that he’s going. The leadership role, I’m really happy where he is right now, he’s just got to continue doing it more and more and those guys got to trust that he can lead.”

Being named a captain is something Allen is not shy about either.

As he looks at his fifth year at NU, it’s something he’s working for each and every day to earn the respect of his teammates.

“It’s for sure something I want to strive for,” Allen said of being a captain. “Being in-state kid, it means a lot to have your name on that board in the hallway in the stadium. It would be a good piece to top off, to show all the people that helped me along the way to get me to where I am, whether it be high school college, it’d be a good thing to earn that for them because a lot of stuff that’s happened to me in my life is thanks to them. I think getting the accomplishment of captain, it’s just a hat off to all of that if it was to happen, but that is my goal for this season, is to try and get to become a captain.”

Lubick has also noticed the drive from Allen this off-season.

If the Huskers take a step forward in 2021, it’s the little things like this that could be the difference.

“Austin Allen’s leadership, he’s taken that to the next level,” Lubick said. “He’s a senior. He was probably one of our best players last year. He is not content with that. He’s taken his practice habits and the will to win, which rubs off on everybody else to another level.”