Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Husker Pro Day Showed the People Are What Makes Nebraska Special

March 26, 2022

As JoJo Domann stood in front of the Nebraska media for what is likely the final time, he had a big smile on his face. What prompted that after completing Nebraska’s Pro Day at Hawks Championship Center?

“It was good to be back in Nebraska,” Domann said. “I couldn’t have really anticipated the emotions that were gonna come up. But it was just all joy and happiness which I definitely think helped propel my performance today.”

Domann’s goal was to come into the Pro Day with a happy heart and perform to the best of his ability. He accomplished the mission.

It’s special being able to come back and work toward your dream in a place you are so familiar with. Nebraska became home for these players over the last four or five years spent on campus. That familiarity put all the Pro Day participants at ease. The advice defensive backs coach Travis Fisher gave to Deontai Williams was to lean on that.

“He told me you waited this long so there is no reason to get nervous now,” Williams said. “He said I’ve been out here on this practice field making plays before. What he was trying to say is this field is basically mine. Every time I stepped out in practice, I showed out. So, it shouldn’t be any different. Now you just got people looking at you and watching how you play and watching how you move.”

Defensive end Ben Stille commented on having the chance to get back on the practice field with teammates that he spent so much time with.

“Yeah, it’s definitely a good feeling just to be able to see the guys,” Stille said. “You’re in here with them day in and day out for four or five, six years. So, it means a lot just to be able to see them because once we part ways we won’t see each other nearly as much as we did in the past.

Several of the participants mentioned how nice it was to be back in Lincoln. The majority of players spent weeks away training. Damion Daniels opened his remarks to media by saying it was great to back in the state of Nebraska. He trained in Ft. Worth, Texas, but it was special being back on campus.

“It was great seeing old faces,” Daniels said. “This place is just special. Ever since I walked back in the smile is still there. Just great people all the way around.”

Isn’t that exactly why Nebraska tries so hard to get recruits on campus? The Huskers have had three Junior Day events since January. Recruits have visited for spring practices. The program will host a large group of prospects for the Red-White Spring Game on April 9. Much of that is designed to expose prospects and their families to the people at Nebraska.

“Getting kids to Lincoln is really important for us,” coach Scott Frost said in February. “I’ve said it a bunch but when we get to kids to Lincoln and they see our facilities and they meet the people and they see the environment here we got a great chance of getting them once they’re here.”

The people at Nebraska make it a special place. It comes up often when discussing what impressed prospects about Nebraska. Defensive end Riley Van Poppel visited this spring.

“What stood was the culture of Nebraska football and just the intensity of practice,” Van Poppel said. “But also, how the staff is, they are very family feeling and good people which I liked.”

Lincoln High wide receiver Beni Ngoyi was on campus for the 2021 matchup with Northwestern. That wasn’t the first time Ngoyi was at a game last year but this one was special for him.

“It was really great and the fans were amazing,” Ngoyi said. “They made me feel at home. They were telling me all these good things about the school and I was treated great.”

When players say that the people are great at Nebraska it’s not just the coaching staff. That also includes the support staff and fans. Daniels could have returned for an extra season at Nebraska in 2022. He said leaving Nebraska was like leaving a part of himself.

The people are a major part of the recruiting pitch for the Huskers. That connection doesn’t come with a new football facility or more trophies. If the recent crop of departed players is any sign it will stay that way for a while.

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