Saturday’s game against Illinois will be a unique experience for Nebraska senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. The Illinois native will be facing off against a defense orchestrated by a coach he watched growing up, former long-time Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith who has taken over in Champaign.
“That will be cool,” Westerkamp said. “He was with the Bears for a long time and I obviously followed them. I’m more of a Patriots fan, but I watched the Bears and Lovie Smith had always been there so it will be really cool to see him on the sidelines.”
Wait, a kid from just outside Chicago cheered for the Patriots instead of the Bears? As it turns out, Westerkamp wasn’t much of a fan of the Cubs or White Sox either growing up, although that might be changing now.
“I’m gravitating more to the Cubs now obviously because they are winning … I was a Cardinals fan growing up just because they would always beat the crap out of the Cubs when they would play them,” Westerkamp said.
Westerkamp admitted to being a full-blown front-runner as a fan. As for the Patriots, with starter Tom Brady suspended and both back-ups injured, Westerkamp said he feels confident New England will win regardless of who is playing quarterback.
“I think Bill Belichick might be the quarterback this week,” Westerkamp quipped. “That will be interesting to see what they do; I’m looking forward to the game.”
Belichick taking snaps might be hyperbole, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that wide receiver and emergency quarterback Julian Edelman could fill in if they need him to.
“[Edelman] was obviously a quarterback in college,” Westerkamp said. “He is my favorite player, so if he’s back there throwing passes that will be pretty funny.”
Saturday is going to be a big game for the Huskers wide receivers for another reason as well. After serving a four-game suspension following his arrest during fall camp, wide receivers coach Keith Williams will be back on the sidelines for Saturday’s game.
“I told him today we better win, otherwise he’s going back in the box,” Coach Mike Riley joked. “I think it’s going to be great to have Keith back, that was a hard, no-good situation. I think we’ve been through the consequences of that, so we’re excited to have him back now, full-fledged into the practices, the games, and the whole part. It’ll be real good for the Huskers to have him back.”
Westerkamp said that he has missed “Coach Dub” as the players call him but that his fill-in – graduate assistant Hardie Buck – has done a great job.
“He’s been awesome,” Westerkamp said. “This past game he got on us; we were sitting on the bench and he just kind of went off on us. That was good because we needed it. Coach Buck, he’s just got a little bit of an attitude coming from Alabama.”
According to junior De’Moray Pierson-El, the players themselves stepped up individually to help Buck and each other on game days over the last four weeks.
“Everybody knew that everybody had to step up in their own spot,” Pierson-El said. “Buck, he was in a position that he hadn’t been in and we knew we kind of had to help him out and everything like that, so I think as a group everybody just stepped up to take up any type of role that they could and just be more coachable.”
Obviously missing Williams wasn’t ideal for the Huskers, but they made it through the first four weeks unscathed and are ready to get back to the normal game day routine.
“That will be huge,” Westerkamp said. “Obviously it’s been different the first four games without him. But we’re right where we want to be – 4-0 – and it’s going to be awesome to get him back on the sidelines and have him there during games … He’s super energetic, will get on us like crazy to get our game going and things like that. It will be great to have him back on the sideline.”
Pierson-El said to expect the wide receivers to take it to a whole new level.
“I think you’ll see another side of the wideout group this weekend,” Pierson-El said. “He’s just a bolt of energy … If we’re not playing right he certainly knows how to get us to play right a lot faster. I think it would just be back to how it was.”
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.