LINCOLN — He's not even officially a Husker yet, and still Johnny Stanton was a star at Memorial Stadium.
The senior quarterback out of California was on his official visit, along with a handful of other high-profile prospects, for Nebraska's game against Michigan.
Stanton was the most recognizable of any of Saturday's visitors. All you had to do was find the large crowd gathered for handshakes and back slaps.
The main attraction got plenty of both, as well as his fair share of shout-outs from the crowd.
“Johnny Tebow,” one man shouted from the front row after Stanton emerged from the tunnel giving high-fives to fans.
Stanton was walking without crutches, but was sporting a brace over his jeans on his injured left leg. He had surgery to repair the torn ACL he suffered last month. He also had on plenty of cold-weather Nebraska gear — including a red Husker coat and a white stocking cap.
And if there were any questions about his allegiances, all fans had to do was check out his cellphone. It was wrapped in a Husker cover.
Six Husker commits and two prospects with pledges to other schools were part of the 12 official visitors.
Jonathan Cook, Kevin Gladney, Zach Hannon, A.J. Natter, Stanton and Lincoln Southwest's Josh Banderas were the NU pledges in attendance. Banderas and Stanton spent much of the pregame warm-ups together and sat next to each other in the stands.
The headliner of the other prospects was five-star defensive back prospect Priest Willis out of Arizona. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Willis is being courted by some of the nation's top programs. Saturday was his first official visit, but Willis has one scheduled for LSU next weekend.
The most familiar name of the bunch — other than Stanton — may have been Drake Martinez, the younger brother of Nebraska starting quarterback Taylor Martinez. Drake is considered an athlete prospect and could play on either side of the ball at the next level.
Other visitors included Purdue defensive end commitment Randy Gregory and wide receiver Demorea Stringfellow, a Washington pledge.
Jamone Boyd and Aaron Cochran were the other official visitors Saturday.
More than 90 minutes before kickoff, a handful of Michigan players, including quarterback Denard Robinson, were on the field warming up with a message on their chests.
The Wolverine players were sporting blue camouflage T-shirts with the words “Road Warriors” on them.
Michigan played a neutral-site game against defending national champion Alabama to start the season, lost at Top 10 Notre Dame three weeks later and blasted Purdue on the road one week after that.
The Wolverines' remaining two road games are against Minnesota next week and at Ohio State to end the regular season.
To Rex, with love
Beth Shallenberger went to Saturday's game hoping for a Husker win.
But the 31-year-old Lincoln resident had other aspirations for the evening as well.
Decked out in a white wedding dress, Shallenberger held a neon orange sign with the words “Marry Me Rex” written in black.
“I love him,” Shallenberger said.
What exactly is it about the Husker senior that makes Shallenberger want to spend the rest of her life with him?
“Oh, everything,” she said. “Not just his looks. Everything he does for the community. ... He's just a great person.”
Shallenberger was having fun with the whole situation, stopping to take pictures with people and hold her sign high.
She said the whole thing was a joke that her mom threw out there a few weeks ago. A stop at a Goodwill landed her the $20 dress and away she went.
As for the whole age difference thing, a fact her mom brought up during an interview, Shallenberger doesn't see it as an obstacle.
“That doesn't matter,” she said with a laugh.
Debate still lives on
There were a good number of Michigan fans scattered throughout Memorial Stadium, and the Wolverine backers were making their allegiances known.
More than a few who landed front-row seats turned around when the maize and blue came up with big plays.
One UM supporter held up a sign letting those around him know his feelings on a title that the Huskers and Michigan shared in 1997.
“1997 National Champs,” the sign read.
Cold? What cold?
What chill in the air?
A group of guys with no shirts and painted chests that spelled out “Boneyard” stood in the front row of the Nebraska student section.
The fellas had black paint over their upper halves, with skeleton painting on their faces.
Most of the other fans in attendance were bundled up as game-time temperatures were in the low 40s.
Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Nebraska sellout streak. Athletic Director and former Husker coach Tom Osborne had a taped message thanking fans for their support. The announced attendance of 86,160 was the second-largest crowd to watch a game inside Memorial Stadium. … Former NU linebacker Lavonte David was recognized on the stadium's screens. David, in his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was in attendance after his team beat Minnesota Thursday night. … Also in attendance was former NU baseball star Alex Gordon, now with the Kansas City Royals.
— Nick Rubek
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>> Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini after the game:
>> Video: NU's Ameer Abdullah after the game:
>> Video: NU's Sean Fisher after the game:
>> Video: NU's P.J. Smith after the game:
>> Video: NU's Jeremiah Sirles after the game:
>> Video: Husker postgame analysis with Rich Kaipust: