There may have been some surprise in the fan base on Monday when it was announced that sophomore cornerback Dicaprio Bootle had received his Blackshirt.
Last season the secondary as a unit was disappointing and everyone took their share of lumps. Luckily for the defensive backs on the roster, Nebraska’s coaching staff was emphatic about players having a blank slate to start 2018. There are few players who benefitted more from that than Bootle.
Bootle, along with Lamar Jackson, played the majority of the snaps at cornerback in the season opener against Colorado. That’s a testament to their conditioning levels but it’s also the way defensive back coach Travis Fisher prefers it. He wants to leave his corners out there to shut down receivers.
There is a mentality in Bootle that his coach would love to see spread through the room. There was a play in the third quarter where the cornerback blew up a screen play by throwing his body around and taking out a blocker, allowing a teammate to make the tackle.
“That was a great play by him," Fisher said. "That no fear of failure deal that we talk about and preach to these kids, he did a great job of going in and blowing that thing up.”
On Monday, coach Scott Frost said that the Blackshirts were not awarded based on one game but there were other factors taken into consideration. Bootle had been a player that Fisher praised throughout fall camp so you know he didn't get his Blackshirt based on this one game. If you combine his performance in camp with the play on Saturday, you can understand why he was the only member of the secondary to receive a Blackshirt on Monday.
Fisher got asked about Bootle receiving his Blackshirt and he shed even more light on something fans may not have noticed against Colorado.
“We aren’t passing them out like candy, man,” Fisher said.
“Here’s what I like about Dicaprio Bootle. A kid got a touchdown over his head towards the end of the game. It would probably take nine out of ten DBs out of it mentally. He grabbed a towel and was cheering on the offense. To me, that’s a Blackshirt. For what we are looking for in our guys, that’s a Blackshirt. He also played physical and flew around. Played 90 snaps and didn’t complain. Played special teams and didn’t complain. That’s why it was one guy that got one.”
On Monday, graduate transfer safety Tre Neal said that Bootle was the type of player that other guys can easily follow because of the way he plays.
That sounds like a Blackshirt to me.
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.