It seems a strange thing to talk about now, as a Nebraska football season depressing for so many winds toward its finish Friday against Iowa at Memorial Stadium.
But while he won’t go through senior day ceremonies, will Tanner Lee play his final game in a Husker uniform against the Hawkeyes?
The junior has a big arm and a steady demeanor. He’ll likely be playing for a new coach in a new system next season. He’s been compared favorably with quarterbacks already in the National Football League.
Could pro ball be next?
“To be honest, I haven’t put much thought into it. I don’t really have (an answer) for those questions right now. I’m going to talk to my family, my coaches, my teammates and things like that, but right now I don’t really feel like thinking about that,” Lee said. “I want to enjoy my college experience and I want to enjoy playing Iowa and I think I’m just going to leave it at that for now.”
Lee enters the final week of the season already holding Nebraska’s record for passing yards by a first-year quarterback with 2,938, and with a good game against Iowa — 260 yards — he’ll move into second all-time on Nebraska’s single-season passing list behind only Joe Ganz.
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Lee has the prototypical body type for an NFL quarterback. He’s spent two years in a system similar to those run by NFL franchises. And of course there’s the now-famous story, first relayed by Nebraska executive director of player personnel Billy Devaney, of how Lee was the star of the the Manning Passing Academy in 2015.
But there is along way to go before anything even resembling a decision will be made.
“I have not even talked to Tanner about this so I will only approach this subject as hypothetical,” Nebraska coach Mike Riley said. “In my history when guys are able to come back — and if they ask me I will give advice, I will tell them what I think and why, but, I will always add at the end that this will be a personal decision and you need to do what you want to do, what is best for you do to, and you need to get good opinions from people that care about you in a way that isn’t about money.”
Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said last week that Lee would benefit from another season of college football. Riley on Monday made a similar statement.
“The advantage for a quarterback coming back is that it is the chance to play in more really, really competitive games and grow in a system and really enhance both your opportunity, which means your draft pick, and also your ability to play,” Riley said. “I think the more they play, because they may not play right away, so the more playing time they actually get in can be helpful to them in the long-term of their career and put them in a better place as they go in.”
No matter what the future holds for the Louisiana native, Lee’s level-headed demeanor will no doubt be a boon when it comes time to make a difficult decision.
It’s a character trait he’s always had, Lee said, and something he’s honed even more since playing under the equally calm Riley.
“A big thing I like about Coach Riley — I’ve always liked about him — is he’s the same guy every day. You know what you’re going to get from him. You know what he’s going to expect,” Lee said. “He’s honest — just something I really appreciate about him. I think it helps our team. We learn from that. I’ve definitely learned from that. Just being focused on our team and the things that really matter and the things like that. I’ve learned a lot from him.”