Published Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm / Updated at 1:45 pm
After walking on, seven Huskers earn scholarships

LINCOLN — It didn't take long for fullback Andy Janovich to go from walk-on to scholarship football player at Nebraska.

The transition was as fast as any of the 26 walk-ons whom Bo Pelini has put on scholarship in his six years as coach of the Huskers.

Janovich is a sophomore from Gretna who played last season as a true freshman. Because Pelini announced the seven scholarship players by class Saturday in a post-practice team meeting, Janovich was the first called forward on the Memorial Stadium turf.

Janovich said it's something he'll remember for a long time.

“It was pretty cool,” he said. “That way everybody knows that happened. It just wasn't in Coach Bo's office and kind of quiet.”

Janovich, junior Mark Pelini and seniors Brodrick Nickens and Colby Starkebaum go on scholarship for the first time when fall semester starts Monday. Seniors Jake Long, Wil Richards and Ron Kellogg will have their scholarships renewed after getting them for the spring semester.

Four of the seven are Nebraskans — Janovich, Nickens, Long and Kellogg. Long, a tight end from Elkhorn, follows his twin brother, Spencer, a guard who went on scholarship before last season.

Jake Long is the Huskers' top returning tight end. Spencer Long is a third-year starter who was a second-team All-American a year ago.

“It's pretty special, isn't it?” Bo Pelini said. “They came in, took their opportunity and made the most of it.”

Mark Pelini, Bo's nephew, has been battling Cole Pensick through fall camp for the starting job at center. Even growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, Mark Pelini said, he knew of NU's walk-on tradition.

Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

“If you come here and you work real hard and perform, you have a chance,” he said. “It's one of those things you work for.”

Nickens, a defensive tackle from Alliance, moved over from the offensive line in spring practice and is expected to be a key contributor this fall. Richards, a defensive back from Lee's Summit, Mo., is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten pick who has helped on special teams the past two seasons.

Kellogg, a quarterback from Omaha Westside, has been a sidekick and confidant for starter Taylor Martinez the past few seasons. Pelini called him a leader in the program.

“He's done everything we've asked him to,” Pelini said. “That's where it starts. He's a great guy to have on your football team.

“He's about this football team. He's probably Taylor's biggest supporter. You watch him out there — helping the young kids and bringing guys along — he's just a guy who gets it.”

Starkebaum is a linebacker from Sterling, Colo., and the son of a former Husker. John Starkebaum played for Nebraska in the 1970s after being coached by future NU assistant Milt Tenopir in high school in Haxtun, Colo.

Colby Starkebaum, also a special teams regular, said he couldn't wait to call his parents when he got to the locker room.

“They'll be just as excited as I am,” he said. “It's going to be awesome.”

Normally, only a few walk-ons are promoted each August, so Starkebaum wasn't sure about his chances as he waited until the last name was called.

“When the other players' names got announced I was getting excited for them, just because I've been around them for so long and I know how much they put the sweat and blood and everything else into the program,” he said. “But it's exciting just because of how hard I've worked up to this point, and to be able to finally be like, 'It paid off to stick with it in the long run.' ”

Bo Pelini said it's satisfying every August to reward some walk-ons who “have the same requirements of the kids that are on scholarship” but don't get the same luxuries and financial aid. Sometimes the choices are hard, he said, because he sees a number of deserving candidates.

But the walk-on program, he said, is what makes Nebraska “special and different.”

“The walk-on tradition continues,” Pelini said, “and it will continue forever because it's an important part of this place.”

* * *

>> Video: Pelini announces new scholarships for walk-ons:

>> Video: Pelini talks with the media after practice:

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.



< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >