LINCOLN — Husker fans may have recognized a James Harden look-alike Saturday.
The beard with a Nebraska hat on was former NU receiver Niles Paul, currently of the Washington Redskins.
Paul was enjoying his team's bye week with a trip back to his alma mater, roaming the Husker sidelines with Redskins teammate DeJon Gomes, also a former Husker.
The Omaha North graduate said he showed players at his former high school an inspirational video during the week as the Vikings prepared for Friday night's state playoff semifinal.
“It was very powerful,” Paul said.
North beat Omaha Creighton Prep 38-17 Friday — with one of its most famous alumni in attendance — to earn the school's first trip to the state championship game.
As for his current team, Paul has shifted to tight end this season, where he has six catches for 102 yards for a 3-6 Washington team.
The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Paul said it's been quite a change from his days at receiver.
“I don't consider myself a true tight end,” he said. “It's different. I'm taking it all as it comes.”
He's yet to find the end zone in his two-year career, and at least part of the blame for that goes to former Nebraska teammate Prince Amukamara.
Three weeks ago, Paul and the Redskins visited the New York Giants, where Amukamara is a starting cornerback. On a red zone sequence in the first half of New York's 27-23 win, Paul found himself matched up with his former teammate.
All of those days jawing at each other at Nebraska came rushing back.
“It was the real deal,” Paul said about the matchup.
Amukamara got the best of that situation, coming up with a stop in the end zone.
“I thought I had a sure touchdown,” Paul said. “He got me once.”
The two get another chance at each other in early December when Washington hosts New York for a Monday night affair.
Vikings get a feel for the field
Some of those North players who Paul watched on Friday night were on hand Saturday.
Vikings defensive end-tight end Casey Sayles, an Ohio commit, and running back Calvin Strong were joined by a pair of teammates on the field before kickoff.
The quartet looked around, into the stands and high into the upper decks.
“We get to play on this field,” Strong said, with half amazement, half excitement.
The four then each gave each other a high-five or hug as they soaked in the moment.
For the record, Strong — who ran for 235 yards and three touchdowns Friday — was decked out in a red Nebraska sweatshirt and stocking hat. The sophomore figures to be one of the state's top prospects in two years.
Prospects soak in another comeback
There was a relatively light crop of official visitors for Nebraska's next-to-last home game of the season.
The headliners of the group were a pair of four-star junior college defensive linemen. Lavon Hooks, a 6-foot-2 295-pounder out of Northeast Mississippi Community College, was on hand. As was 6-foot-3, 305-pound Quincy Russell from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.
Also on official visits were NU commit Gabriel Miller, a long-snapper, and defensive back Adam Taylor out of Katy, Texas.
A prospect who had already made his official visit was back for another look as well. David Knevel, a 6-foot-9, 285-pound offensive line prospect who took his official visit for the Wisconsin game, was in attendance on an unofficial visit.
Maybe this guy can fix the deficit
Call it a write-in.
A fan on the east side of the stadium held a sign that proudly displayed his feelings on the recent election.
On a red, white and blue poster board, the fan had a ballot drawn up, complete with the names of the two presidential candidates and a selection of his own.
Obama and Romney both had blank boxes.
The one with the big red check mark? Herbie.