August 7, 2011 in Sports

Nebraska opens football practice without Starling


LINCOLN, Neb. – With millions of dollars potentially at stake, Bubba Starling is putting football at Nebraska on hold until he decides whether to sign with the Kansas City Royals.

Starling was a no-show for the Cornhuskers’ first practice Saturday, and coach Bo Pelini said afterward that the 6-foot-5, 200-pound freshman quarterback won’t participate in team activities until at least Aug. 15, if ever.

That’s the baseball signing deadline for Starling, a power-hitting outfielder who was drafted No. 5 overall in June.

“Obviously, he has got a lot at risk,” Pelini said. “We communicated with the family about the best way to go about it. We’re all on the same page.”

Starling’s father, Jimbo Starling, confirmed that Bubba was still a member of the Nebraska football program. He declined to comment further.

Pelini said he is leaving open a spot for Starling on the 105-man preseason roster. He said it would not make sense for him to practice as long as there is uncertainty about his future.

Starling is taking summer school and working out on his own, “just like anyone else who’s not on the 105.”

Starling was a multisport star for Gardner-Edgerton High School just southwest of Kansas City, Mo. According to his growing legend, he hits 500-foot home runs, throws a football 55 yards from his knees and dunks over basketball players who stand half a foot taller.

His father has said football is Bubba’s first love. He rushed for 2,471 yards and 31 touchdowns his senior season and was listed among The Associated Press Top 100 Recruits.

The absence of Starling leaves Nebraska with three full-time quarterbacks – returning starter Taylor Martinez, redshirt freshman Brion Carnes and sophomore Ron Kellogg III. Freshman Jamal Turner is splitting time between receiver and quarterback.

Pelini also is awaiting word on the status of incoming freshman Charles Jackson, one of the nation’s top cornerback prospects.

Jackson still hasn’t been cleared academically. He’s seen as a key addition to a secondary that lost New York Giants first-round pick Prince Amukamara.

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