CHICAGO — JD Spielman isn’t in Chicago despite being one of Nebraska’s most high-profile players. And that’s OK, Scott Frost said, because the Huskers just need the receiver to keep being himself.
The junior wideout spoke sparingly to the media last season but enters this fall just 68 catches and 1,099 receiving yards from school career records.
On Thursday, Spielman made the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the nation’s best receiver.
Spielman is coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 66 passes for 818 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing the final two games of the year because of injury. He finished in the top 10 of NU’s single-season record book in catches (third), yards (ninth) and touchdowns (seventh).
He also set the school’s single-game receiving record with 209 yards against Wisconsin.
Nebraska has never produced a Biletnikoff Award winner, though Husker offensive coordinator Troy Walters took home the honor in 1999 while playing for Stanford.
Spielman is the third Husker to make a preseason watch list for a major award, joining Adrian Martinez (Maxwell and O’Brien) and Mohamed Barry (Lott).
Frost said he believes the receiving corps is deeper and more talented this year despite the loss of 1,000-yard receiver Stanley Morgan with Spielman atop the heap.
“The farther you get from the middle of the field — in baseball or the center in football — the less your influence during a game exists,” Frost said. “... But JD is one of the guys that’s going to have to set a good example for everybody and help lead the way from that standpoint.”
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Trev Alberts: Butkus Award, 1993 (best linebacker)
Eric Crouch: Davey O'Brien Award, 2001 (best quarterback); Heisman Trophy, 2001 (most outstanding player); Walter Camp Award, 2001 (player of the year)
Tommie Frazier: Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, 1995 (best fourth-year quarterback)
Rich Glover: Lombardi Award, 1972 (best lineman or linebacker); Outland Trophy, 1972 (best interior lineman)
Larry Jacobson: Outland Trophy, 1971 (best interior lineman)
Dominic Raiola: Rimington Trophy, 2000 (best center)
Dave Rimington: Lombardi Award, 1982 (best lineman or linebacker); Outland Trophy, 1981 and 1982 (best interior lineman)
Johnny Rodgers: Heisman Trophy, 1972 (most outstanding player); Walter Camp Award, 1972 (player of the year)
Mike Rozier: Heisman Trophy, 1983 (most outstanding player); Maxwell Award, 1983 (best all-around player); Walter Camp Award, 1983 (player of the year)
Will Shields: Outland Trophy, 1992 (best interior lineman)
Dean Steinkuhler: Lombardi Award, 1983 (best lineman or linebacker); Outland Trophy, 1983 (best interior lineman)
Ndamukong Suh: Bednarik Award, 2009 (best defensive player); Bronko Nagurski Trophy, 2009 (best defensive player); Lombardi Award, 2009 (best lineman or linebacker); Outland Trophy, 2009 (best interior lineman)
Aaron Taylor: Outland Trophy, 1997 (best interior lineman)
Zach Wiegert: Outland Trophy, 1994 (best interior lineman)
Grant Wistrom: Lombardi Award, 1997 (best lineman or linebacker)