Nate Gerry, Boaz Joseph suspended for Nebraska's bowl game

Senior safety Nate Gerry has been suspended for the Huskers' bowl game against Tennessee.

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s patchwork quilt of a football team for the Music City Bowl needs even more mending after coach Mike Riley’s Thursday announcement that senior captain and safety Nate Gerry was suspended for the game because the university ruled him ineligible.

In a message posted on Twitter, Gerry wrote: “I did not fulfill my academic responsibilities this semester and I want to apologize to my teammates and to Husker Nation.

“I am very grateful for the experience I have had at Nebraska and am extremely disappointed that my Husker football career has ended in this manner.”

A three-year, full-time starter who finished his career with 273 tackles and 13 interceptions, Gerry was the defensive quarterback and top playmaker for the Blackshirts. He was first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-America according to the Associated Press, and should have a good chance of being picked in the NFL draft.

Gerry is serving his second suspension of the season. He sat out the opener against Fresno State; at the time, Gerry said he “slipped up, caught me at the last second.”

This suspension will keep him from facing a much better opponent in Tennessee.

Rumors about the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native being out for the bowl game started percolating last weekend. Riley knew early this week Gerry might be suspended, so he started giving sophomore Antonio Reed, Gerry’s apparent replacement, more snaps at safety. Riley said Gerry’s status was “final, final” on Wednesday.

Another Husker, reserve cornerback Boaz Joseph, was also ruled ineligible for the bowl. Riley didn’t know Joseph’s standing with the team going forward.

Gerry and Joseph didn’t violate a team rule, Riley said, and their suspension wasn’t related to behavior.

“You can figure it out from here, OK?” Riley said. “I can’t say specifically what it is, but the main fact is Nate and Boaz are not eligible for the game.”

Academic privacy rules generally prevent a coach from commenting on the schoolwork of student-athletes.

Riley said Reed has good awareness as a playmaker and he’s in the best physical shape of the season after battling injuries earlier this year. With Gerry’s absence, each of the Husker starters in the secondary will be returning next season.

“I’m excited to see this group play together,” Riley said.

Still, Riley said he’s disappointed in a captain being suspended for a second time in one year.

“Are we disappointed? Sure,” Riley said. “It affects a lot of people — most directly, right for the moment, this 2016 team that he’s a captain of. That is for sure the immediate. The same with Boaz.”

Gerry and Joseph, Riley said, have to grow and learn from this mistake.

“The best thing for anybody to do in a situation like this — if it’s behavioral or if it has something to do with academics — then I think you have to own it, find a way to improve it in order to get better from it,” Riley said. “Taking responsibility and basically being able to remedy the situation in the future, those are all the teachable moments I’ve had in my whole career for tons of guys over many years.

“There are consequences to negative actions that affect your future. If you don’t straighten them out, then you don’t have much of a future.”

Gerry’s suspension exacerbates depth issues Nebraska will have in the bowl game because of injuries.

» Quarterback Tommy Armstrong (hamstring) hasn’t practiced yet — he’s run a little — and remains doubtful for the bowl game. Backup Ryker Fyfe has taken all the No. 1 practice snaps and has performed well, Riley said, throwing accurately and making confident decisions. Trainers aren’t sure, Riley said, if Armstrong can be 100 percent for the bowl.

Fyfe is now taking snaps under center, Riley said, and has been for a couple practices. Fyfe suffered a broken left (non-throwing) wrist in the Maryland game, had surgery right after, and is wearing a protective, flexible cast on the left hand.

“By the time we get to the game, I don’t think it’ll be a factor at all,” Riley said.

» Senior wideout Jordan Westerkamp will miss the game with a knee injury. Another senior, Brandon Reilly, will move into the slot to replace Westerkamp, while sophomore Stanley Morgan and junior De’Mornay Pierson-El play on the outside. Senior Alonzo Moore (ankle injury) is questionable for the game.

» Starting running back Terrell Newby (knee) has been upgraded to probable while backup Tre Bryant (hamstring) has been downgraded to doubtful. Riley said coaches would know more at the bowl site about Bryant’s status.

Get a daily Husker news roundup, recruiting updates and breaking news in your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.