May 25, 2024

Thomas Fidone picking up where he left off as Huskers’ safety net

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Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Nebraska tight end Thomas Fidone II catches a 25-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of the Red and White Game Saturday April 27, 2024 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

LINCOLN, Neb. — The junior tight end generated a ton of momentum after he started eight games, and led Nebraska in touchdown catches last season.

Thomas Fidone pretty much picked up where he left off, and performed at a high level in Saturday’s Red and White Game. He hauled in three passes, including a 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The special part about Fidone’s score was his yards after the catch.

The Council Bluffs native caught a short pass over the middle from Heinrich Haarberg, broke a tackle from defensive back Malcolm Hartzog, and took the pigskin 20 yards to the house. On that play Fidone resembled former Georgia tight end, and two-time, John Mackey Award winner Brock Bowers, who was a first round pick in last week’s NFL Draft.

No doubt Fidone is ready for an All-Big Ten caliber campaign, and will be a dangerous weapon in Nebraska’s offense this fall. He’s expanding his knowledge of the playbook, and mentoring the younger players along the way.

“It’s very similar in terms of the same play calls, but I think what has changed the most is the way we carry ourselves in the offense,” Fidone said. “All of us are so prepared, and this scrimmage had a lot of reps of plays that helped us as an offense because reps matter, and the more reps you have obviously the better you’re going to be with all of the plays that are called.”

Fidone was a key contributor in Nebraska’s aerial attack in 2023. The six-foot-six, 250-pounder used his frame to haul in a touchdown pass at Colorado. Fidone also generated receiving scores in victories over Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Purdue. Not to mention he posted three touchdown receptions through the Huskers’ first four games.

Now Fidone will be catching passes from former five-star prospect Dylan Raiola, which means his production should increase. So far Raiola has impressed Fidone, and he wants to keep building chemistry with the gunslinger. Fidone admires his arm talent, vision for the field and believes Raiola is the X-Factor.

As a matter of fact, Fidone has confidence in all of the quarterbacks, and believes the offense will make strides heading into fall camp. The offensive output in the spring game was noteworthy, but Fidone knows there’s much more to improve on over the next four months.

“As an offense we have to continue to carry over our confidence into the fall with strong workouts, and take it day by day,” he said. “Spring ball is not going to be a heavy install, we’re not game-planning for anyone specific, so it’s going to be a little different in that type of way.”

Rhule appreciates the value Fidone brings to the offense, and will install some special packages to get the ball in his hands. After all, Fidone has 4.5 40-yard dash speed, with big hands and arms, so he should be able to do damage to opposing secondaries. Rhule admires Fidone’s work ethic too, considering he has overcome two ACL surgeries in his career.

The second-year coach feels Fidone is the epitome of never being complacent, regardless of the success, and wants that to rub off on his teammates.

“What I love about Thomas Fidone is he’s never happy, because he wants to be great, he wants to be the best tight end in the world,” Rhule said. “He’s always trying to get better.”

Fidone grew up a typical Husker fan, right over the bridge from Omaha. He often found himself getting into physical fights as a kid on the playground, trying to prove Nebraska was better than Iowa. His passion for the program runs deep, and he tries to show that on the gridiron with every opportunity he gets. Bottom line, Fidone is confident with what he brings to the table, and believes the best is yet to come.

“I’m not like a safety net, but I’m a big target, and I feel like I got great hands, a great athletic skill set to make things happen after the play, and I’m glad I got to show that a little more.”

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