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How do Nebraska’s newly released player Performance Index numbers stack up historically?

Nebraska strength coach Zach Duval watches the team during pregame warmups Sept. 21, 2019, in Champaign, Illinois.

Nebraska on Monday released a set of Performance Index and Strength Index testing numbers following its winter conditioning program, rekindling a long-time tradition that had gone dormant for several years. 

“Old-school testing like we used to do,” coach Scott Frost said Monday. “Seeing the improvement that our guys made in those areas, I think, gives them a lot of confidence. 

“We certainly owe a lot to (head strength coach Zach Duval) and his strength staff, (assistant) Andrew Strop and the others, for the improvement that we made there.” 

There are some usual suspects on the list of five top performers the Huskers released on Monday. 

Outside linebacker Damian Jackson (270 pounds) hasn’t played much in his Husker career so far — he did see some limited duty in 2020 — but he’s a former Navy SEAL. 

Among the others, Frost said senior safety Deontai Williams (203 pounds) set a school record in the agility shuttle. Sophomore offensive lineman Cam Jurgens (290 pounds) has long been touted as one of the most explosive players in the program. Junior defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt (198 pounds) is one of the best athletes on the team and one of its best professional prospects. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the group is transfer linebacker Chris Kolarevic (228 pounds), who arrived on campus this winter as a graduate transfer from Northern Iowa. 

The numbers released by the program are translated into what looks like the same or similar indexing as former strength coach Boyd Epley used for years. Duval, of course, learned under Epley. 

In Epley’s book, “The Path To Athletic Power,” he outlines some of the best performance index and strength index results in school history, which make for a handy comparison now. 

Performance Index numbers include metrics for the 10-yard dash, 40-yard dash, pro agility drill and vertical jump. Strength Index numbers include squat and hang clean. 

Here are the totals for the five players listed Monday: 

Jackson: Performance Index 3,021; Strength Index 1,171. 

Jurgens: Performance Index 2,896; Strength Index 1,152. 

Kolarevic: Performance Index 2,732; Strength Index 1,065. 

Williams: Performance Index 2,727; Strength Index 1,006. 

Taylor-Britt: Performance Index 2,491; Strength Index 1,012. 

According to Epley’s book, I-back James Simms logged the highest Performance Index score in school history in 1996 at 3,313 points. 

Jurgens’ 2,896 PI points surpass the offensive line record of 2,779 logged by Freddy Pollack in 1996. The book, published in 2004, has results up through the 2003 season, though only position-by-position records are listed rather than an exhaustive look at entire rosters each year. 

“The point Frost emphasized was that they used to do this back in the ’90s, so being able to see those guys’ scores and then see some of the guys on our team just blow those out of the water, it shows us that we’re just as athletic and big, and we can do everything that they did in the ’90s,” Jurgens said. 

Jackson’s 3,021 also compares favorably to rush-end Kyle Vanden Bosch’s 1999 record of 2,939 for rush ends. 

Curtis Cotton holds the defensive back record, set in 1991, at 3,227 points.

Frost in 1996 logged 2,686 Performance Index points, the top mark in program history for a quarterback.  

Epley writes in his book that the indexing is on a 0-1,000 scale in which 500 points represents “a solid, NCAA Division I performance standard that is not easy to achieve” and takes into account the weight of the athlete. 

At the time, he said that more than 20,000 cases over 25 years had been analyzed and that, “Nebraska has concluded that 500 points on the vertical jump is equivalent to 500 points on the 10-yard dash, which is equivalent to 500 points in the agility run, and so on.” 

Frost also noted Monday that walk-on receiver Wyatt Liewer tied the previous best mark in the agility shuttle before Williams re-set the benchmark. 

Also, walk-on wide receiver Oliver Martin, a transfer last year from Iowa, logged a 40-inch vertical jump, the top mark on the team. 

“Zach told me that all but seven players on our roster improved in every single area of testing, so that’s quite an improvement across the board,” Frost said. 

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How do Nebraska’s newly released player Performance Index numbers stack up historically?