Nebraska OL Turner Corcoran is now 100% healthy after offseason rehab | football

LINCOLN — Turner Corcoran got tired of waiting.

When Ethan Piper hurt his hand during spring practice, Corcoran, who himself was sitting out with an upper-body injury, went looking for Nebraska athletic trainer Mark Mayer.

“Where are my pads at?” Corcoran asked.

Mayer wouldn’t tell him. He couldn’t while Corcoran was still rehabbing. Though the Husker lineman felt ready to practice, Mayer pleaded otherwise.

“Don’t do this. You’re gonna get hurt.”

Corcoran, now 100% healthy, says the injury wasn’t serious. “Just some maintenance from the season,” he said. But maintenance still requires rehab. And rehab, no matter how minor, tests your mind, your will, your patience.

“It’s a mental game,” Corcoran told The World-Herald at Saturday’s football development camp.

“You can’t get too down on yourself because you’re not up to pace with where you thought you’d be. I had to keep chugging away.”

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Corcoran is referring to the “wall” he hit during his recovery. One day, he couldn’t lift as much weight as he could the day before. His strength had regressed; his progress frozen.

He compared the feeling to digging yourself a hole. The only way to correct it: “Dig yourself out.”

So Corcoran kept his body pushing and his mind occupied. During spring ball, he considered himself an assistant on offensive line coach Donovan Raiola’s staff. He watched Raiola teach blocking techniques. He studied the new verbiage. Then, when he felt comfortable, he spoke up.

Coaches stopped meetings to ask Corcoran’s perspective. He’d offer a tweak or a note, and he’d always finish on a compliment.

“There’s always two sides of coaching,” Corcoran said. “You can tear a kid down, and then you’ve got to bring him back up.”

He craved the same feedback on his own technique. So he watched a film at home, then he’d visit Raiola’s office to ask what he could do better. He also played Madden and NCAA football with a player’s eye, watching for out-of-place defenders — “like I was playing quarterback,” he said. And he watched film of pros he wants to mimic: Colts guard Quenton Nelson, Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum and former Husker Cam Jurgens (Corcoran admits he’s biased, but Jurgens is his favorite study).

The common threads among them: athleticism and tenacity. Corcoran believes he can match the pros’ speed and power. But what separates them from most players is their persistence with every block.

“At the end of the day, you either have (tenacity) or you don’t,” Corcoran said. “You have to be finishing blocks, whether you’re 10 yards downfield or at the line of scrimmage. Those dudes have it.”

Corcoran wants to prove that he does, too. Fall camp is less than two months away, and Corcoran says that if Nebraska had a game tomorrow, he would play.

But three months later, he admits: Mayer was right. It’s a good thing Corcoran didn’t play during spring ball. He needed more time to heal, to push, to win the mental game.

“I felt like I was ready,” Corcoran said. “But obviously, I wasn’t. There was no sense in throwing me out there in spring ball when I was rehabbing. But now I think all of us are ready to throw the pads on and play.”

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