LINCOLN — The few times that Daniel Davie played cornerback in high school were when the Beatrice coaches felt the need to lock down an opponent's top receiver.
They'd call on Davie, who relied on his athleticism to blanket his guy.
It worked — most of the time — but Davie never thought much of it.
“I'd kind of just go run around with him, but I didn't really have the technique,” he said. “I was faster than anybody.”
The sophomore is learning how much technique matters after landing at cornerback with the Huskers. Speed takes you only so far when you're chasing receivers like Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner in practice.
“Covering those guys definitely is getting me better every day,” Davie said. “And then Coach (Terry) Joseph is an excellent teacher, as well.”
Davie said he's getting comfortable now that he's had time at the position. The former World-Herald All-Nebraska pick has inched into regular snaps with the No. 2 defense at left corner.
Though some listed him as a multi-purpose athlete when he signed with Nebraska in 2011, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Davie has since realized the Husker staff was probably thinking cornerback all along.
“They kind of told me they just like my size,” he said. “I've got pretty long arms, and obviously I've got pretty good speed. It came down to just teaching me the position.”
Davie, an all-class gold medalist in the 100 and 200 for the Beatrice track team, was a 1,500-yard rusher as a senior in football — capped by a 265-yard game against Holdrege in the Class B playoffs. He also could play receiver or step in as a Wildcat quarterback. Defensively, he mostly played safety.
But he figured it was best to let the NU staff decide his fate after a conversation with defensive coordinator John Papuchis.
“J.P. kind of told me, he sees me being a good receiver, but he feels like I can be a great corner,” Davie said. “They kind of gave me a choice. But, you know, good to great? What are you going to pick?
“I was kind of open to learning something new or whatever they wanted me to do.”
There's some patience involved. Nebraska has veterans at cornerback such as Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Josh Mitchell. But Davie found a way to contribute as a redshirt freshman with his work on special teams.
The staff will keep looking for more progress. Coaches tried him at the nickel and dime spots in spring practice — before a shoulder injury shut him down — but now have him focused on corner.
“He's athletic,” head coach Bo Pelini said. “He wanted to play on the defensive side of the ball. He's doing a good job. He's getting better. You're starting to see the light come on in some areas. He's just got to keep working on the consistency aspect of it.”
The speed is there. Davie just has to keep learning how to best use it.
“When I first got here, I knew nothing about the corner position,” he said. “I've got two years under my belt, so I'm kind of ready to get on the field.”