Published Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:46 am
Husker receiver Jordan Westerkamp impressing teammates

LINCOLN — Jordan Westerkamp came to the line twice on third-and-long Saturday and realized what the Purdue coverage meant for the Nebraska receiver.


“So I just had to run a precise route,” Westerkamp said. “And they were great balls on both throws.”

Ron Kellogg hit Westerkamp for 23 yards on third-and-13 in the first quarter, with the redshirt freshman having to absorb a hit by Purdue safety Anthony Brown at the end of a post route to secure the first down. It helped set up the touchdown that put the Huskers ahead 14-0.

Tommy Armstrong connected with Westerkamp for 21 yards on third-and-15 in the second, with a wheel route getting him into the secondary and pulling NU out of a hole by moving the chains again.

To Westerkamp, they weren’t anything out of the ordinary as Nebraska rolled to a 44-7 win. The quarterbacks throw it and the receivers catch it, just like the countless times they have done the same in practice.

But with Westerkamp, fellow receiver Quincy Enunwa said, the catch part seems to come easy.

“He has the best hands on the team — best hands,” Enunwa said. “He’s doing his best to make plays, and we’re giving him chances. One hundred percent certain (he has the best hands). You ask any DB or receiver.”

Those who know Illinois high school football would vouch for his efficiency after the 6-foot, 200-pounder caught 235 passes and scored 68 touchdowns for Montini Catholic in Lombard, setting state records in both categories.

Now Westerkamp is trying to carve a new niche with the Huskers, catching three passes at Purdue to give him seven receptions for 83 yards on the season. He enjoyed his largest chunk of playing time Saturday because slot receiver Jamal Turner was limited because of a sore hamstring.

“I told him basically on Thursday that he was starting the game, to give him a good 48 hours to get his mind prepared, and I think he did a good job,” NU assistant coach Rich Fisher said. “Jordan’s a smart guy and a real football-savvy guy, and works hard and prepares. And I knew we wouldn’t lose a beat with him in there.”

The 2Ĺ-hour drive from his hometown in the Chicago suburbs allowed for Westerkamp to have about 30 family and friends at Ross-Ade Stadium. They also saw him catch a 9-yard pass from Armstrong on the Huskers’ first drive, which ended with him fumbling the ball out of bounds.

Westerkamp said his late-week approach was no different after hearing that Turner would be limited, at best.

“I’m always prepared, I’m always ready, I’m just waiting for my opportunities,” he said. “I was able to get a good one (Saturday), and I tried to make the best of it.”

The assortment of practice repetitions leaves Westerkamp comfortable with all three Husker quarterbacks. But the fact that three of his past five receptions have come on passes from Armstrong teases of the possible future connection between the two redshirt freshmen.

They already live together and work together regularly in the offseason.

“We throw the ball around all the time,” Westerkamp said.

Nebraska was returning its top three receivers this season (Enunwa, Turner and Kenny Bell) along with several others, but Westerkamp stayed confident in his ability to help out after spending a year with the scout-team offense.

Again, it was about opportunity.

“I was ready,” he said. “I mean, I was as ready as I can be. I’ve just got to keep practicing hard. I just keep everything consistent and it’ll all work out.”

That philosophy also goes for punt returns, something Westerkamp has added to his workload the past three games. Although it so far has resulted in modest success — Westerkamp gained 12 yards on the four he returned at Purdue — it’s another place where his sure hands come into play.

“A big priority is just to field the ball, but consistency is the key,” he said. “We practice it every single day, so it’s starting to become more natural to me.”

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
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >