Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee declares for NFL draft
Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee has declared for the NFL draft.
Lee announced his decision Thursday with a post on Twitter. In it he thanked Mike Riley and the previous coaching staff, his teammates and the Nebraska fan base.
"I've decided to enter the NFL draft and pursue an opportunity that I feel is the best for myself and my family at this time," Lee wrote in the social media post.
He also wished luck to Scott Frost and the new regime, saying "Nebraska is in great hands."
But speculation grew about Lee's future at Nebraska after Frost became head coach. Lee, considered a pro-style passer without much mobility, didn't seem to be a fit in Frost's spread offense.
In November, Lee said he planned to return to Nebraska for another season, but that he'd have to consider his options.
"I gotta see what's out there," he said.
Lee served as Nebraska's starting quarterback for one season after transferring from Tulane. He threw for 3,143 yards in 2017 with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Lee struggled early in 2017, his first on the field for the Huskers. He tossed nine interceptions through the first four games, including seven in losses to Oregon and Northern Illinois.
He fared better in the middle part of the season. He threw for at least 260 yards in three consecutive games. He had a season-best 431 passing yards and two touchdowns in a comeback victory against Purdue on Oct. 28.
His best overall outing probably came against Penn State, when he threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. NU did lose that game, 56-44, to the No. 9 Nittany Lions.
In his final game as a Husker, Lee threw for 205 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in a 42-point loss to Iowa.
It's been 25 years since a Nebraska quarterback was drafted in the NFLto play that position. The last was Keithen McCant, a 12th-round pick in 1992. Previous Husker quarterbacks like Jammal Lord, Eric Crouch, Bobby Newcombe and Frost moved positions upon entering the league.
Lee did receive high praise from NFL draft analysts entering this season. Former NU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf — who served as the New York Giants quarterbacks coach in 2014 — said in November that Lee has an NFL future, but he would have recommended he spend another year in college.
“I think he has a real bright future ahead and he’s gonna continue to improve,” Langsdorf said. “He’s smart and tough and whatever he decides, there are good things ahead for him.”
Lee's departure will leave Nebraska with two scholarship quarterbacks that were on the roster last season — Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia. Neither have started a collegiate game. O'Brien played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2017, completing 18 of 30 passes for 192 yards and an interception. Gebbia redshirted.
Nebraska will add four-star quarterback recruit Adrian Martinez as an early enrollee for spring practices. He put up big numbers as a high school junior but missed his entire senior season with a shoulder injury. Cody Green was the last true freshman to start at quarterback for NU in 2009.