As Nebraska seeks a potential walk-on quarterback for its 2017 class, there’s one current Husker that understands the process better than anyone. That player is senior Ryker Fyfe.
A walk-on quarterback from Grand Island, Nebraska, Fyfe chose the Huskers because of the potential opportunity. He knew he’d have to work hard, often waiting in the shadow of starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. It never discouraged Fyfe because he knew what it meant to walk on at Nebraska.
“That’s kind of why a lot of us did walk on because we had heard it was a big deal and it is a big deal,” Fyfe said. “A lot of walk-ons have played so you think, ‘Why not?’ You might get your shot. Coaches tell you that coming in. That’s why a lot of decided to come here.”
As a senior in high school, Fyfe put up impressive numbers for Grand Island. He threw for 1,921 yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for another 746 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
When he decided to walk on at Nebraska, Fyfe didn’t know what the future would hold. He ended up playing little bit over his five years, mostly as Nebraska’s top backup. His first career start came as a junior in 2015 against Purdue. It was unfortunately not what Fyfe wanted, as the Huskers fell to the Boilermakers 55-45.
A year later, Fyfe found his redemption for that Purdue game against Maryland. He got his second opportunity as starting quarterback and made the most of it. He completed 23-of-37 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. His leadership was a big factor in the Huskers’ 28-7 victory over the Terrapins.
As it turns out, Fyfe broke a bone in his wrist during that Maryland game, requiring surgery. Yet Fyfe kept on fighting, helping out as much as his wrist would allow. He’s still unable to take snaps from under center, but he’s getting there. Fyfe doesn’t know who will start in the Music City Bowl so he’s preparing like he always does.
“Just like I’ve been doing for the last three games, you have to be ready to go and just go out and practice hard and prepare like I’m going to start,” Fyfe said. “They haven’t made any decisions so Tommy might come back. I’m still going to go out and practice and give it all I’ve got. I only have a couple of more weeks here so I’m going to practice hard.”
Fyfe credits a lot of his strength to his walk-on mentality. He believes walking on at Nebraska made him a tougher athlete and hope fans recognize that for both himself and his teammates.
“I would hope that fans [appreciate] these kids that walk on at Nebraska and what we do,” Fyfe said. “It’s not easy coming in and paying for your school. Every day at practice, especially when I was young, every day at practice is like the Super Bowl because you have to go out and prove yourself. It takes a lot of work, especially this 2012 class. These guys had a lot to prove so I think fans should appreciate walk-ons, especially kids from Nebraska. It means a lot more to them, I think.”
He even has advice for future Nebraska walk-ons, especially as more kids accept their preferred walk-on spots with the Huskers.
“Just come ready every day to compete and don’t be afraid of the scholarship kids,” Fyfe said. “Come in and play hard every day and just know you can do it.”
And if anyone knows it can be done, it’s Fyfe. It just takes hard work, a little patience and the willingness to trust the process.
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.