As senior offensive guard Jerald Foster reached the podium Monday afternoon, he was introduced as a two-time captain of Nebraska football. Foster smirked.
"I like that," he said.
Foster is one of four Nebraska seniors to be named a captain for the 2018 season. He's joined by fellow seniors Stanley Morgan Jr. (wideout), Mick Stoltenberg (defensive tackle) and Luke Gifford (outside linebacker).
Being named a captain with Gifford is particularly special for Foster, too. The duo were Lincoln Southeast teammates and eventually members of Nebraska's 2014 recruiting class.
"Being able to be a captian with Giff, being able to grow up with him — we've known each other since the summer of our eighth grad year — so being able to grow up together and just see each other into the men we are today, I'm just so excited and I'm so happy that I'm able to be out there with one of the guys that really has been my friend since we were really young," Foster said Monday. "It's exciting."
Having known Gifford for so long, Foster has seen many of the characteristics that ultimately led to him be named a captain. Foster noted Gifford's persistence to do the right thing, and his ability to stay the course when things are going well and to readjust and solve problems when they're not.
However, Foster is clear it's not just about being named captain with Gifford. He's equally proud to represent the team with Stoltenberg and Morgan. He also appreciates being able to step back and watch his teammates and friends lead.
"It's extraordinary to be with guys you trust on and off the field as your captains being out there with you," Foster said. "Being able to just give them their chance to lead and I can sit back and enjoy it more, like another guy takes a little off your shoulders. I know the defense is led by two great guys and the offense — and not to toot our own horn — is too."
While Foster is in his second year as captain, it's a first for the other three. For Stoltenberg and Gifford in particular, hearing they would also become captains was a moment they'll never forget.
While Gifford is from Lincoln, Nebraska, Stoltenberg isn't from much futher away in Gretna, Nebraska. Both grew up Huskers fans, so being able to represent Nebraska as captains is big honor for both.
"I can't even explan it to you. Literally a dream come true," Gifford said. "I've been thinking about it ever since I was little and to know that's what the guys think of me and I represent them is awesome."
And like Foster, Gifford is equally excited about reuniting with his Lincoln Southeast teammate as a captain.
While Nebraska's season opener was ultimately canceled due to severe weather (but coach Scott Frost hopes they can make a 12th game still work), the captains have embraced the opportunity to lead through adversity. It seems to be going well too, since Frost said Monday was one of the Huskers' better practices.
And knowing they're a part of keeping the momentum going is important to the captains. For Stoltenberg, he's just honored for the chance to lead Nebraska with Morgan, Gifford and Foster.
He also hopes to leave a strong legacy for the Huskers.
"I've watched this program since I can remember and to be put on that wall and be one of those guys is an honor to me," Stoltenberg said. "It's something you have to put in perspective a bit, but it's a really cool and exciting thing for me and it's cool that I'm with Luke and Jerald, two guys I came in with.
"We're fifth year guys, fifth year seniors and all from the state of Nebraska so I think it's an awesome tradition and we're going to keep it going."
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.