LINCOLN — Todd Honas relished the entire experience when he visited Nebraska with a mix of committed and prospective walk-ons last Saturday, but one thing might have stood out above the rest.
The staff brought in Jack Gangwish and Andy Janovich, Honas said, and the former Huskers “sold me on the process of being a walk-on and the chance of being great — and I bought in.”
“Andy said, ‘The only way you guys won’t be successful here is if you guys don’t want to be, if you don’t buy in or don’t care,’” Honas said. “I looked at it as this is great. This is a great setup, and if I buy in I’ll have some opportunities.”
The record-breaking Aurora receiver is one of nine preferred walk-ons NU added Wednesday. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder will try to emulate the success of recent walk-on receivers like Brandon Reilly and Sam Burtch.
Reilly was the Huskers’ second-leading receiver last season, with 40 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns.
“I went and looked at his bio and he was no five-star or four-star recruit,” Honas said. “Just tremendous speed and worked his butt off, and he made it.”
Honas said he had some walk-on interest from Oregon, which started last summer when he attended a Ducks camp and hit it off with former offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Among the scholarship offers he considered were from UNK, Washburn, Northwest Missouri State, Morningside, Wayne State and Chadron State.
Honas had plenty to show them on tape, breaking his own Class B single-season records as a senior with 73 receptions for 1,180 yards. He was a second-team All-Nebraska pick for the second straight year.
“We’ve had some really good receivers in the years I’ve been here at Aurora, but he probably has the best ball skills,” Huskies coach Kyle Peterson said. “He goes and gets the 50-50 balls, and quarterbacks have trust in him to go up and play those balls. The way he plays the ball in the air, you can’t teach that.”
Peterson said Honas likely will be tried as a slot receiver, and called him “a physical kid, a strong kid” who can be an effective blocker on the perimeter.
“He maybe doesn’t have big-time Division I speed to play on the edge, but he understands there are niches receivers can find,” Peterson said. “He can be really good at certain things.”
Janovich and Gangwish both arrived at NU as walk-ons before going on scholarship. For Gangwish, it wasn’t until after a redshirt year and two seasons of not playing.
Honas is ready to pay whatever price, and be a good teammate until his time comes.
“I don’t really worry too much about playing time,” he said. “I just want to help Nebraska win, and in practice try to help those guys in front of me. And if I’m somebody who can help the team down the line, I’d be glad to do that.”
Some other notes from the walk-on class:
» Omaha Westside twins Grant and Spencer Jordan are the brothers of NU walk-on fullback Harrison Jordan. Grant is listed as a 6-1, 205-pound fullback, Spencer as a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker.
» Ty Chaffin caught 82 passes for 1,710 yards and 29 TDs his final two seasons at Burwell. He was a Class D-1 all-state pick for the state runner-up Longhorns.
» Kearney Catholic linebacker Creighton Hamik played on a pair of state playoff teams. Though his senior season was disrupted by a knee injury, he finished his career with 160 tackles and four interceptions.
» Tanner Hass helped West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic to Class D-1 playoff bids the last three seasons. Hass rushed for 1,778 yards and 35 TDs as a senior.
» Tavlin Hunt was a tailback, kick returner and linebacker for Lincoln North Star.
» Branden Hohenstein was an Iowa Class 3-A all-state pick as a Sioux City Heelan defensive end in 2015. Hohenstein is listed as a 6-4, 205-pound tight end on the Husker walk-on list.
» Defensive back Eli Sullivan intercepted four passes last season for Longmont (Colorado) High. Sullivan was a two-way standout who totaled 32 touchdowns during his career.
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