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Alum Lambrecht's return to Nebraska a dream come true

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 8, 2018 in Football

Courtney Meyer raves about how skillfully Gerrod Lambrecht took on an unusual responsibility in the fall of 1996. A senior at a time when the institution was still referred to as Concordia College, Lambrecht came down with mono while already in need of shoulder surgery. With Meyer suddenly seeking someone to tutor the offensive line, Lambrecht redshirted and filled the hole in the coaching staff.

A football junkie, Lambrecht started at center during each of his four years of collegiate competition, but that one year spent on the sidelines may have been his most impressive contribution to the Bulldog football program.

Said Meyer, “He did a phenomenal job. Not only did he coach the line but he prepared all of the game plans and did all of the blocking assignments. He was coaching the guys that he had played with. That was something I’ll never forget about him – the way he took charge at that time. He displayed a tremendous amount of knowledge of the game and did a phenomenal job. For him to do what he did at the time, I thought that was an amazing thing.”

Since his graduation in 1997, Lambrecht has continued to accomplish amazing things. Over a 17-year career in the health care field, Lambrecht became a successful businessman while applying his Concordia degree in business administration and management. However, the game of football pulled Lambrecht back in. It just so happens that the sport has moved him within shouting distance of his alma mater. Lambrecht now serves as Chief of Staff at the University of Nebraska for new head coach Scott Frost.

A native of Wood River, Neb., Lambrecht has begun to soak up the opportunity of a lifetime. Said Lambrecht, “For a kid who grew up in Nebraska, something like that is a bit of a dream come true.” Lambrecht was named to Frost’s staff back in December. According to Frost, Lambrecht’s unique background makes him an ideal fit for the football operations role.

Said Frost, “First and foremost, I trust him. On top of that, he’s intelligent and he’s a good man. Anytime you’re running any business, no matter what area of business you’re in, you want good people. Gerrod’s that kind of guy. He’s somebody that I know has the best interests of the players in mind. Gerrod’s business experience and everything that he accomplished outside of football really helps. He really compliments me well because his strengths are a lot of my weaknesses.”

The nurturing of Lambrecht’s revered traits – intelligence, business savvy, generosity, leadership and others – took place in Wood River and then during his years as a Bulldog. The son of parents who met at Concordia, Lambrecht went through much of his high school career expecting to spend his college days somewhere other than Seward.

A campus visit convinced him otherwise. Lambrecht met Meyer and then offensive line coach Dick Lemke. He saw the light. He wound up starting as a freshman and went on to earn All-Nebraska-Iowa Athletic Conference honors in 1994, 1995 and 1997. Somewhat undersized at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Lambrecht made up for it by knowing the offensive scheme and the opposing defense inside and out.

Recalled Lambrecht, “I didn’t really have a whole lot of interest initially in going to Concordia. I remember being somewhat resistant to it and was looking much more closely at some of the other Nebraska schools. I took my visit to Concordia and I met the offensive line coach Dick Lemke and I met Courtney Meyer. I remember leaving Seward with a feeling that it was the place I was supposed to be. It was very, very unexpected for me. I remember feeling strongly leaving my visit that it was ultimately the place I was supposed to be. It ended up being an easy decision for me to go to Concordia.”

Lambrecht played for teams that came up short of any sort of championships, but the passage of time has allowed him to reflect more deeply upon the blessings that came out of his Concordia experience. He credits Meyer with influencing his life in terms of development of character, work ethic and faith. One of the lasting memories for Lambrecht is the Bulldog football program’s tradition of singing the Doxology in the locker room after games. To this day, Lambrecht can feel his emotions stirring when viewing current players carrying on the tradition. Admitted Lambrecht, “Sometimes when I see it on social media, it still almost brings me to tears.”

A divergent path has brought Lambrecht back together with his good friend Frost once again. They first met in the summer of 1989 in the weight room at Wood River High School. They were both about to enter their freshman year at Wood River, where Scott’s father Larry had become head coach. For three years, Lambrecht started at center while Scott quarterbacked an Eagles team that rose to rock star status in a tiny town that lived for Friday night lights.

Especially as juniors and seniors at Wood River, Gerrod and Scott were inseparable. Frost referred to Lambrecht as “almost like a member of our family.” When the legendary ‘flea kicker’ play occurred in a Nebraska overtime win over Missouri in 1997, Gerrod watched with Concordia teammates during a postgame dinner. It was like something of a proud brother moment. Scott scored the game-winning touchdown.

Over the next 19 years, Lambrecht and Frost kept in close contact. Lambrecht had served two years as offensive line coach at Valparaiso University, but he mostly stayed out of the sports world. When the time was right, Lambrecht would make his return to college football.

“Scott and I had been talking for a number of years about when he got his first head coaching job that I would come along with him to help run the back end,” Lambrecht said. “It had been something that we had been talking about for some period of time prior to him getting the job at UCF. I was actually preparing for it a year in advance because we thought he might get a head coaching job earlier than what he ultimately did. He got the UCF job and he called me. I still remember I was in St. Louis at the time for the holidays with my wife’s family. He gave me a call and said, ‘I need you to come down to Orlando.’ I was basically on the first thing smoking to get down there to start working for him.”

The two years at Central Florida were a smashing success with the Knights completing a 13-0 season in 2017. In the week leading up to UCF’s conference championship game victory on Dec. 2, according to Lambrecht, “the groundwork was laid for Scott to become the new head football coach at Nebraska.” So began a whirlwind 38-day period during which the focus of Frost’s staff was splintered between Orlando and Lincoln.

One thing was clear. Frost wanted Lambrecht along for the ride, no matter where that ride came to a stop.

Says Frost, “Gerrod’s so valuable. He does so much for me that he allows me to focus on what I do. If I had to worry about budgets and administrative meetings and organizations, then I couldn’t spend my time game planning and coaching. Having a guy like Gerrod on board allows me to spend my time on what’s important and that’s coaching and trying to win games.”

Since December, Lambrecht has gotten his hands dirty with everything from scholarship and recruiting plans to the reemphasis of the walk-on program to winter conditioning and spring football and to the building of university relationships that may benefit the football program.

It's safe to say it’s not a bad life for Gerrod, who has a wife Sarah and four children. Less than two hours from his hometown, Lambrecht is embracing the next challenge of helping restore a glorious Husker football tradition.

Says Lambrecht, “I’m not going to lie, I walk around this place and pinch myself every now and then just to make sure it’s real.”