Published Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:32 am
FOOTBALL
From the sidelines: Previous visits help Huskers land two commitments

LINCOLN — While Nebraska was hosting its biggest recruiting weekend of the season so far in terms of official visitors, word filtered out that NU received commitments for the 2014 class from two players who visited two weeks earlier.

Receiver Robert Lockhart, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior college transfer, pledged to the Huskers on Saturday morning.

Later in the day, 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker Jaevon Walton of New Orleans switched his commitment from Louisiana-Lafayette to Nebraska.

Lockhart, a member of Miami's 2012 recruiting class before an ACL injury, gives NU three receiver commitments. He had offers from Ole Miss and Florida International, but told 247Sports that he decided NU was the one after his official visit for the Northwestern game.

“My visit to Nebraska for the Northwestern game went great,” he said, “and I was real high on the Huskers out of high school.”

Walton, who also visited for the Northwestern game, is close with Husker freshman tight end Cethan Carter and is expected to play either middle or weakside linebacker for NU.

“I felt it was family oriented and I felt comfortable there,” Walton told HuskerOnline. “I felt that I could make a major impact there.”

As for those in Lincoln on Saturday, seven official visitors were on hand.

Quarterback Zack Darlington, receiver Demornay Pierson-El and defensive back Trai Mosley — all NU commits — were part of the contingent.

So was defensive end and Wisconsin commit Joe Keels, a junior college standout at Highland Community College. Keels' Highland teammate, defensive back Josh Keys, was also on an official visit.

Another visitor was Raymon Minor, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound athlete out of Richmond, Va. Minor has offers from Clemson, Iowa, Miami, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, among others. He was making his first official visit of the year Saturday.

Colorado commit Chance Waz, a defensive back out of Texas, was the other visitor.

Adversity leads to words, then an embrace

A roller-coaster afternoon wasn't exclusive to the field. There were plenty of emotion swings on the Husker sideline, too.

Following a first-half series, defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski and defensive end Jason Ankrah were nearly nose to nose in a disagreement that attracted fans, ABC cameras, teammates and coaches to the area.

The heated conversation continued until Kaczenski dropped to a knee to draw something on a grease board. After a few minutes, the two talked about what they were seeing, a conversation that ended with Kaczenski putting an arm around Ankrah for a quick embrace.

But even with the adversity, Nebraska players and coaches seemed to stick together. After the third turnover of the first quarter was cashed in for a touchdown, offensive lineman Spencer Long and receiver Kenny Bell came to the defensive bench and encouraged members of the Blackshirts.

Hail Mary hits big screen

That didn't take long.

The last time Husker fans saw their team at Memorial Stadium, it was dancing away with a win over Northwestern after a Hail Mary.

On Saturday, that play was a staple of the Tunnel Walk, NU's trademark entrance.

The 49-yard touchdown pass from Ron Kellogg to Jordan Westerkamp appeared in two spots of the Nebraska pregame video. And each time, it drew big applause from the Husker faithful (as did Westerkamp during pregame introductions).

Nebraska regularly changes and updates the Tunnel Walk video, but the miracle play may have a home for the foreseeable future.

Calls against NU bring out the boos

Husker fans showed a bit of their class and a whole lot of their passion in the second quarter.

After NU sophomore Daniel Davie was flagged for a kick-catch interference penalty, a chorus of steady and strong boos was aimed at the officiating crew.

The only problem was that NU's softball team was set to be recognized during the break in action.

So the Husker faithful curbed the boos for a minute as the softball team was given its time, then flipped the disapproving-noise switch back on as soon as the squad left the field.

The officials also got an earful during a first-quarter exchange that went against Nebraska.

In Jordan Westerkamp's attempt at fielding and returning a punt, he was originally ruled down by contact before fumbling.

But during the ensuing media timeout, officials looked at the play and reversed the call, giving Michigan State the ball at the NU 8.

Just as referee Dan Capron tried to explain the situation, it appeared as if his microphone began having issues.

In a true “spit-it-out” moment, Capron had to give the ruling bit by bit. When he finally did get to the part about Michigan State taking over, he was nearly drowned out by the boos.

But a nice retrieval gets a thumbs-up

It wasn't all bad for Saturday's officials, though.

During the national anthem prior to kickoff, the hat of a service member fell off his head and landed near the 10-yard line in the north end.

The hat sat there through the entire anthem until field judge Al Terry walked over and picked it up. The gesture got Terry a handshake and thumbs-up from an NU official.

Extra points

Nebraska's Big Ten champion women's gymnastics team was recognized during a break in the first quarter. ... Former All-America safety Mike Brown was introduced during the second quarter. Brown blew a few kisses and threw the bones to Husker fans. ... Daimion Stafford, another ex-Nebraska safety, was also in attendance. Stafford is now with the NFL's Tennessee Titans, who played on Thursday night this week.

* * *

Video: NU coach Bo Pelini after the Michigan State game:



Video: NU receiver Kenny Bell after the Michigan State game:



Video: Sam McKewon's postgame analysis:

Contact the writer: Nick Rubek

nickrubek@gmail.com    |   402-850-0781    |  

Nick Rubek covers Nebraska football, Omaha Beef football and high school sports throughout the state, including football, wrestling and soccer.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

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