Michael Decker had a successful prep career at Omaha North High School before joining the Nebraska football team. He helped the Vikings to three consecutive state championship game appearances, including state titles in 2013 and 2014.
So when Decker made his first start of the season against Rutgers, it’s no wonder he didn’t blink. He’s been preparing for this opportunity for a while now.
"Cav and Langs’ system puts a lot of responsibility on the centers to know the blitzing and schemes and stuff," Decker said. "These past couple of years I’ve had the privilege to be be under good players above me so when I came in it was almost routine because being in a for a couple years really helped me.”
One of the things that had been lacking on the offensive line to start the season was strong communication. It wasn’t just an issue with making calls, but also “echoing” them throughout the line to make sure that everyone understood the protections. Decker thought he did well in his first start with improving communication.
"It was good," he said. "I felt like, right when we got off drives, we all kind of knew what happened and we were able to correct it. I felt like things were just clicking with us even if they weren’t clicking."
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf had some praise for his first time starter at center as well.
"I thought Decker was really sharp," he said. "I thought he was an excellent communicator on the sideline with the looks that we were seeing. I thought he did a nice job of identifying the defensive front and making good calls, and then communicating on the sideline with the rest of them, how he was seeing it, how we were seeing it with [offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh], and I thought he did a really nice job that way."
Decker has a feeling that he would play during the week leading up to the Rutgers game. Starting center Cole Conrad was banged up the week before and was looking doubtful for the conference opener. Decker says that Conrad was even urging him to take more reps during the week so he would be ready to go.
"I kind of expected it because Cole was still injured for the first part of the week and couldn’t really go. It seemed evident when he was still hurt towards the end. It just was unsaid."
Decker is a smart, tough football player that played well enough on Saturday to have a bigger role on this offensive line. If Conrad is unable to go on Friday, Nebraska should be just fine having the former local standout become a fixture in the starting lineup.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.