Nebraska's latest linebacker commit Nick Henrich will never forget one of the first things he ever said to inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud.
"I played as you in Madden 2008."
Henrich, the 4-star linebacker from Omaha (Neb.) Burke, laughs when he recalls that moment. His brother loved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers growing up, so that's the team the Henrich duo would choose in the popular NFL game.
And when it came time to select players, Henrich always selected Ruud.
"It's definitely weird to think about now," Henrich told Hail Varsity.
It's also humbling. For Henrich, Ruud is the epitomy of what he'd like to be as a linebacker. Like Henrich, Ruud also hails from Nebraska. Ruud played for the Huskers, and left with the school's career tackles record, before he was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
That's the path Henrich would like to take, too. So when Ruud started calling, texting and showing up at Burke High School, Henrich paid attention.
"He was always in contact with me," Henrich said. "I think he was [at Burke] every single time that he could be. Literally talking to him as much as I did, the more I got to know him, the more I really liked him. He's a great guy."
The relationship was key for Henrich. As one of the top-rated high school prospect in Nebraska, Henrich had offers from the likes of Iowa, Florida, Penn State and Texas A&M.
Being in demand, Henrich had a lot to consider. Once Ruud and coach Scott Frost came knocking on his door? The decision became clearer.
"They're just really great, genuine people and they're great coaches too because of the success they had at Central Florida," Henrish said. "I just think I just related to Coach Ruud so well because he played linebacker at the highest level and he's a Nebraska kid, too. He knows how to get it done pretty much, as well as Coach Frost and the entire staff.
"They're just great dudes and they're all winners."
And Henrich wants to be a winner, too. His goals for his senior season of high school football is to "leave no doubt." He's determined to work as hard as he can this season so he and his teammates can play as many games as possible.
That drive is also a part of what led Henrich to his July 21 commitment. Once he knew where he wanted to go, there was no point in waiting.
"I knew I was ready and it was the right fit," Henrich said. "On top of that, it's just nice to focus 100 percent on this upcoming season, my teammates and the coaching staff, and just really be all in to them."
Now that the decision and announcement have come and gone, Henrich is ready for his future. There's plenty of work ahead, but he prides himself on keeping his head down and doing what's needed to get a little better every day.
In fact, the one thing he wants Nebraska fans to know is that he's not afraid to work hard. He also doesn't expect anything to be handed to him without earning it.
Sounds a little like the player Henrich used to select in Madden 2008 all those years ago. Maybe it's a sign of his own future.
Keep an eye on Madden 2025.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.