Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Westside’s Tristan Alvano Gets 5 A.M. Scholarship Call

November 22, 2022

Big-time players rise to make big plays. Monday night’s Class A State Championship provided as big of a stage as Nebraska high school football had to offer. That game featured a few big-time players but only one capped a perfect evening with the game-winning kick.

Omaha Westside’s Tristan Alvano was simply perfect. Westside jumped out to a 28-14 lead in the first quarter over Gretna and Alvano’s leg did the rest. He became the first kicker in state history to go 5-for-5 in the championship game with makes from 44, 50, 26, 42 and 45, the final came as time expired to win the state championship. Alvano said each kick was just like the others and credited his teammates, especially the offensive line, for making each one happen.

Nebraska already showed interest in the senior standout. A video of Alvano clearing 60 yards earlier this season caught plenty of coaches’ attention. The Huskers reached out and invited him to the Minnesota game. He attended with an extended preferred walk-on offer. But his historic night in Memorial Stadium raised the stakes. Alvano got home around 1 a.m. and somehow fell asleep among the pandemonium. He awoke to his alarm around 7 a.m. with his mind on an 8 a.m. pep rally. Instead, he saw a missed call from Nebraska interim head coach Mickey Joseph that he had to return.

“He said I want to see you kick, I want to see you play,” Alvano said of his conversation with Joseph. “He told me he wanted me to stay home.”

Winning a state championship was the dream. The morning after brought a different dream tantalizingly close.

Typically, college programs don’t retain more than one scholarship kicker. Timmy Bleekrode, a sophomore from Atlanta, currently handles kicking duties for the Huskers and is 8 of 10 this season. Of course, the imminent coaching change and transfer portal movement will provide more clarity to the Class of 2023 recruiting picture. Nebraska is now one of the first schools to offer Alvano a scholarship, although he garnered attention from Alabama, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa and Iowa State before the championship game. North Dakota State and Army have also offered him scholarships. He said he’s feeling out the process and doesn’t consider himself on a deadline.

Joseph talked briefly about recruiting during his pre-game press conference on Tuesday.

“When you look at a kid and he’s a no-brainer, don’t dance around it, pull the trigger,” Joseph said. “Keep him here. Make sure all the good players stay here in Nebraska.”

Recruit Watch

Alvano’s teammate and fellow Nebraska target Caleb Benning completed his return from a broken collarbone with a stunning performance against Gretna. The junior athlete already holds offers from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Iowa State in addition to Nebraska. On offense, Benning led Westside with 103 receiving yards. On the flip side, he had one tackle and one PBU with his two interceptions. He nearly made another interception from his back on Tom Osborne Field but the ball slipped out of his hands and hit the turf. Benning is a 3-star prospect at the conclusion of his junior season, according to Rivals.

Benning’s interceptions were all the more impressive considering they came off Gretna quarterback Zane Flores. The Oklahoma State commit was 21 of 37 for 414 yards and three touchdowns. He also utilized his feet to scramble for 52 yards. Flores’ final throw of his high school career may have been his best. He stood in the pocket and, while being tackled, found Blayke Moore for a 54-yard heave to set up Gretna’s go-ahead touchdown. That would have won the game if not for Westside’s final drive and Alvano’s heroics.

Outside of the Nebraska’s state lines, Nebraska also extended a scholarship offer to Hubert Caliste of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. Caliste, a junior, is an athletic tight end with an offer from Florida State.

ICYMI

>> Quinton Newsome has been one of the reliable playmakers for the Nebraska defense this season.

>> Nebraska volleyball head coach John Cook spoke about the marquee matchups to close the regular season.

>> Seniors Madi Kubik and Kenzie Knuckles will not return for another season, they both confirmed on Tuesday.

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