Husker Dan: 2018 Top Ten Husker Honor Roll
Thanksgiving and Christmas are times of the year when people give thanks for the many blessings they have.
It is in that spirit that I announce my Top Ten 2018 Husker Honor Roll. My over worked and under paid staff has helped compile the list. We’ve included the people and events that have had the most positive impact on the 2018 Husker football season.
#10.) Tre Neal and Noah Vedral
These two University of Central Florida transfers may have had more of a positive impact on the Husker football program this season than many might realize. By coming to Nebraska, these two players sent a message to the rest of the Husker team that Scott Frost and his assistants know what they are doing and know how to restore Nebraska to national prominence.
Both players could have been part of another undefeated season at Central Florida. They could have stayed in sunny and warm Orlando, Florida preparing for yet another New Year’s Day Bowl game. But instead, they followed their coaches to Nebraska. And in doing so, they had to endure a disappointing 4-8 season that ended without a bowl game. Safety Tre Neal started all 12 games for NU while backup QB Noah Vedral sat out part of the year trying to get his eligibility restored. He played extensively in the Bethune-Cookman game and scored his first TD as a Husker. (We’ll never know if he could have been cleared to play earlier, he might have helped the Huskers beat Colorado and Troy in September.)
And both UCF transfers were like coaches on the field and did all they could to help teach the other Husker players the nuances of Scott Frost’s offense and defense. Thanks Noah and Tre!
#9.) The Cancellation Game
The adage that God works in strange and mysterious ways may have shown itself when the Huskers’ opener with the Akron Zips was canceled. As everyone knows, the game was never made up. Instead, the Huskers had to scramble to find a twelfth game later in the season. And that game turned out to be Bethune-Cookman.
#8.) The Makeup Game
So how can canceling the Akron game be a positive for Nebraska? Here’s my take:
I know that canceling the opening game left Husker fans, coaches and players in a bit of mess. Fans had been counting the days, hours and minutes waiting for the day they could be a part of Husker history. Some traveled hundreds of miles and spent thousands of dollars to witness the beginning of the Scott Frost Era. But the game was canceled because of strong storms in the area.
And by not playing its opener, Nebraska did get to play a game that originally was set up to be a bye week. Thanks to the relationship that some of Frost and his assistants had with the coaches at Bethune-Cookman (an FCS team), a game was able to be scheduled with BC for Game 7.
And the real benefit of playing a team like BC then was that many of the Husker regulars were benched at the half. (Huskers led 38-3). All the Husker starters played in the first half and were replaced in the second by backups, walk-ons and former walk-ons. Many Husker players who probably wouldn’t have had a chance to play in the Akron game, got to fulfill their dreams of playing in front of 90,000 rabid Husker fans.
Frost couldn’t have asked for more. His starters got a rest; the backups got to get valuable playing time and he was able to use the day to promote the Husker walk-on program that he is committed to rebuilding. Great move, coach!
#7.) Zach Duval and Dave Ellis
These two coaches, Duval for strength and conditioning and Ellis for health and nutrition will have a great impact on the future of Nebraska football. To be sure, their return is going to pay off every year they remain at Nebraska.
#6.) The Domino Effect
My Honor Roll is about 2018, but in order to get to this year, some incredible series of events first had to happen in 2017.
A.) Chancellor Harvey Perlman retired.
B.) Ronnie Green was hired to replace him and Hank Bounds became the University President. And together, they fired former Husker A.D., Shawn Eichorst.
C.) And together, they hired Bill Moos as his successor.
D.) And after the 2017 Husker football season ended at 4-8, former Husker head coach, Mike Riley was fired by Moos.
E.) That set the stage for Bill Moos to hire (with a lot of help) Scott Frost.
#5.) Matt Davison and Tom Osborne
I’ve listed these two men together, because without both of them, Scott Frost probably wouldn’t have come back to Nebraska. While many of us thought the deal with Frost and Nebraska was done much earlier, Scott Frost didn’t formally accept the Husker offer until December 2, 2017. BTW, that day should be a statewide holiday every year!
#4.) QB Adrian Martinez
This freshman phenom was recruited by Scott Frost while he (Frost) was at UCF. Martinez, a Tennessee commit at the time, was Frost’s #1 priority once he took the job at Nebraska. No one can or should underestimate what Martinez has meant to the Husker football program this year. AM just might be the biggest QB recruit Nebraska has had since Tommie Fraizer. Adrian Martinez has exceeded the expectations of even his most ardent supporters. Martinez is much more mature than his age (18) would indicate. His savvy passing, elusive running and strong leadership has helped him shatter several records for freshman QBs at Nebraska. (AM was the first true freshman QB to start an opener in Husker history.) There is no limit to how good Martinez can be. And what about the impact he has had and will continue to have in attracting great players to come to Nebraska? The kid is amazing. Maybe a once in a lifetime player.
#3.) Frost’s Assistants
That the entire staff Frost had at Central Florida left the comfort (and climes) of Orlando, Florida to come to the sometime stifling heat and bitter cold of Nebraska speaks volumes about what they think of Scott Frost and his coaching. I know, it didn’t hurt that these assistants are making much more money than they were at UCF. But what an advantage Frost and his staff had when they were able to hit the road running last January to recruit players for Frost’s first recruiting class.
#2.) Scott Frost
So how come Frost isn’t #1, you ask? Read on.
Where would all the above Honor Roll members be without the leadership of first year head coach, Scott Frost? I shudder to think. Although Nebraska finished the season with the same W/L record as 2017, the stock for Frost’s first year is trending upward (4-2 in the last 6 games) while last year’s team (2017) went 1-5 in the last 6 games in a nose dive that got MR and his staff fired at season’s end.
“In Frost We Trust” should be the Husker fans’ slogan. Once again, the Husker faithful will be counting the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes until next year’s August 31st home opener.
#1.) THE HUSKER FANS!!!
And speaking of Husker fans, we are left with THE most essential element of the 2018 season. Through a seemingly endless string of dumb plays, penalties, blown assignments and losses that plagued the Huskers early in the season, the Husker faithful came by the tens of thousands to every home game. They sat in heatstroke weather (Troy) and endured the coldest game in Husker history (Illinois) and even braved a snowstorm and blustery winds when Michigan State came to Lincoln. Sure, some fans stayed home on those days, but even when the Huskers had lost six straight games, they kept coming, Undaunted, they willed the Huskers to beat Michigan State in a snowstorm. And even though the Huskers were shut out for the first three quarters and failed to score a touchdown the entire game, the Huskers found a way to win, beating Sparty, 9-6.
Maybe the game was “our finest hour”-to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during WWII. It was absolutely amazing to see the Husker faithful remain so dedicated.
“We’ll all stick together,
In all kinds of weather,
For dear old Nebraska U.”
Never have these words from “There Is No Place Like Nebraska” meant so much as they did this year.
In summary, Frost has said several times that one of the main reasons he returned to Nebraska was because of the amazing fan support. And when Frost held his first Spring Game back in April, the event was sold out in 24 hours. Almost 90,000 Husker fans showed up to see a scrimmage! Unbelievable! Take a bow, Husker fans. You are the best anytime, anyplace and anywhere!