LINCOLN — Quincy Enunwa was about 60 yards away from the goal line when he caught a third-down pass last week at Purdue. He wanted to score.
Well, he always wants to score. That's how he explains what happened next.
Enunwa utilized just about every move in his arsenal, jumping over one guy and spinning out of another's attempt to wrap up his legs. He backpedaled away from a different defender before turning toward the sideline and stiff-arming one more opponent on his way out of bounds.
The 36-yard play ended well short of the end zone, but it revealed — perhaps more than any other in a game during Enunwa's Nebraska career — why teammates and coaches can't stop talking about how much potential the 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior receiver possesses.
Enunwa has made leaping grabs. He's steamrolled through defenders for extra yards. He seems to crush a defensive back with a brutal block once a game (check Enunwa's YouTube clips).
But it was only a matter of time before he had a run like that. And there's more to show, apparently.
“I've had better runs in practice,” Enunwa said. “That's why out of camp, guys were like, 'Wait to see him with the ball in his hands.'”
Enunwa hasn't disappointed. He leads the team in receptions (25) and yards (354). His seven receiving touchdowns are tied for fourth nationally, and he needs five more scores to break Johnny Rodgers' single-season Nebraska record set in 1971.
Enunwa insists he's always had it in him. He'd get frustrated every time he heard all those questions during the past couple of years about him moving to tight end. He didn't think people fully knew what he was capable of.
Teammates and coaches knew.
“We'll run a two-minute drill and he does the same stuff all the time,” senior quarterback Ron Kellogg said. “When he catches the ball, he turns into another human being.”
There was a play in a preseason scrimmage that still leaves receivers coach Rich Fisher shaking his head.
It started with Enunwa taking a fly sweep handoff. Said Fisher: “Two safeties came up to make a tackle. He ran through the two safeties. One guy was kind of holding on to him, and (Enunwa) drug him. Then ran over another guy down by the goal line. He probably ran 70-some yards, but got tackled at the 1. And ran over probably five guys when he was doing it.”
No wonder the Nebraska coaches spent the offseason trying to come up with more ways to get the ball to Enunwa in space or in the middle of the field. They considered putting him on kickoff returns.
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“He's a violent runner. A violent guy,” Fisher said. “He doesn't want to come down.”
Enunwa prides himself on that trait.
He's a Kansas City Chiefs fan because his dad, Henry, loved watching Christian Okoye flatten defenders. Enunwa's parents, like Okoye, were born in Nigeria. Okoye's style drew Henry to the sport.
So young Quincy eventually gave up soccer after elementary school and started playing football. He was a running back until high school.
He moved to receiver at Rancho Verde (Calif.), though he relied mostly on his speed to separate from defenders. The strength came later.
Former Husker Brandon Kinnie remembers seeing Enunwa's burst during a preseason practice four years ago.
Enunwa, never one to concede an argument, claimed he could beat Kinnie in a race. Kinnie dismissed the challenge as not being worth the effort. No way the newbie could outrun him. Then he saw Enunwa accelerate for an overthrown deep pass. Kinnie was standing next to ex-receivers coach Ted Gilmore when Enunwa made the play.
“Quincy put it into another gear. He dove and caught it,” Kinnie said. “Gilmore looked at me. He goes, 'I don't know, brother. He might have you.'”
But it was Enunwa's physicality that persuaded the coaches to lift his redshirt. Enunwa didn't play much his first year. He never doubted he belonged, though.
Enunwa was 205 pounds as a true freshman. He didn't get pushed around. He just needed to put all his skills together.
“Now I can use that strength and power to my advantage against other guys, as well as a little speed in there,” he said.
He benches about 350 pounds. He squats 540. He had a 58-inch box jump over the summer. Plays like his 36-yard catch and run at Purdue display his explosiveness. Fisher thinks NFL scouts will salivate over Enunwa when they get a closer look this spring.
“When he tests,” the coach said, “he'll do some pretty impressive things.”
Enunwa can't wait to show them.
It's not that he's arrogant — just convinced that his best still isn't on film. Every time he touches the football is another chance to redefine himself. He wants to be a receiver who can do it all.
“When I'm out there, it's kind of just going with the flow,” Enunwa said. “I'm just having fun. Whichever way I can get to the end zone.”