Husker notes: Walk-on Zlab puts himself in the books

Husker defensive back Tanner Zlab, a senior from Wilber who made the program after last season through a walk-on tryout, made the final tackle of the Maryland game on Senior Day. “He’s in the books forevermore,” coach Mike Riley said.

LINCOLN — Somewhat lost in the Senior Day mix was a late-game play when Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager completed a 12-yard pass to Levern Jacobs.

The tackle? It came from Husker defensive back Tanner Zlab, a senior from Wilber who made the program after last season through a walk-on tryout.

“He’s in the books forevermore,” coach Mike Riley said.

Zlab had previously played at Doane before transferring. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Zlab is always one of the first ones in the locker room or on the field before games to tell him, “Hey, good luck today, Coach.”

“Just a real positive attitude, a worker, just a good person,” Banker said. “And for him to be able to get out there, and make a tackle, that was awesome.”

Teammates celebrated his play on the field and sideline, knowing the kind of work that Zlab and other walk-ons do outside of the spotlight.

“It’s just that humility and saying, ‘I’m willing to do whatever I can to help the team,’ ” linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey said. “We’ve got a locker room full of those guys — walk-ons, scholarship, equipment managers … everybody.”

Special teams a ‘mixed bag’

Riley wasn’t crazy about some shaky work again on special teams. Earlier in the week, he had called the Huskers’ work a “mixed bag” this season.

Maryland blocked a field goal and converted a fake punt in a span of a few plays in the second quarter. NU also had a 27-yard punt after its first series of the third quarter, and Caleb Lightbourn sailed a kick into the end zone for a touchback in the fourth.

Nebraska, however, did stop a fake field goal by Maryland on its first series.

One ranked, one not ...

The Nebraska-Iowa rivalry will go another year without having both ranked when they meet on Black Friday.

Nebraska (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) this season will be No. 15 in the coaches rankings and No. 17 in the AP Top 25, moving up two spots in both polls Sunday. The Huskers last held AP rankings for the Iowa game in 2012 (No. 17) and 2011 (No. 22).

Iowa (7-4, 5-3) was No. 3 and undefeated last year when it beat Nebraska 28-20 in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes hadn’t been ranked for any of its previous games with NU since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.

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