Nebraska had 15 seniors in its two-deep last season. One decided to transfer, one retired for medical reasons and the other 13 had a big decision to make: take advantage of the extra year of eligibility created by the pandemic fallout or move on to the next phase of their lives.
Dicaprio Bootle, Brenden Jaimes, Matt Farniok, Dedrick Mills, Dicaprio Bootle and Jack Stoll all turned their attention to preparing for a chance to make the NFL, while Christian Gaylord decided against becoming potentially the first seventh-year Husker athlete.
Connor Culp didn’t go through Nebraska’s senior day ceremony, so that tipped off his decision. But one by one throughout the first couple weeks of January, the rest of the seniors — all on defense — announced their return with videos on social media. First JoJo Domann, then Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams, then Will Honas, then Ben Stille all announced their return in a similar fashion. Cam Taylor-Britt, a junior, also announced he was coming back with a video.
Levi Falck, a grad transfer walk-on wide receiver from South Dakota who earned a significant role last season, took a different route: no video, no official announcement at all. He simply confirmed his return to reporters who reached out to him on Jan. 15
“That was kind of always the plan once I figured out that I was going to be able to come back, especially since the year didn’t go as planned,” Falck said. “I know how good this team can be and felt with the whole defense coming back and our offense is looking like they’re improving, there was no question I was going to come back and see what we can do this year.”
Another difference was all those defensive players still have professional playing aspirations. Falck knows this is it for him on the gridiron, and another chance to play the game he loves made it an easy call.
“I think it was just me growing up loving football,” Falck said. “That’s all I did when I was a kid was play football with my friends, play Madden with my friends. Football’s just been always my thing. It was either do a business job or play football, and it was a pretty easy decision.”
Falck played in all eight games with four starts last season. He was third on the team with 13 receptions and turned them into 122 yards (fourth on the team). He was one of four wideouts with a touchdown reception in 2020 and also played an important part in Nebraska’s perimeter blocking schemes.
Nebraska’s receivers room is going to look quite a bit different this season with Wan’Dale Robinson’s departure and the addition of transfer Samori Toure and three scholarship freshmen. Matt Lubick has a lot to sort through this spring with his room.
“Spring ball is kind of just meant for everyone getting reps, so all these young guys are showing what they can do and everyone is just competing for a spot right now,” Falck said. “I would say reps are pretty evenly split up and everyone is playing with their heart.”
Falck and Toure are the only senior wide receivers on the team, and junior transfer Oliver Martin, who had stops at Michigan and Iowa before arriving in Lincoln, is the next-most experienced player at the position. All three have taken on leadership roles on the field. Falck also highlighted a freshman in Will Nixon, the son of Carolina Panthers running backs coach Jeff Nixon, who missed last season while recovering from an ACL. Falck said he’s even learning some things from Nixon.
“Everyone’s super eager to learn,” Falck said about the room. “The meetings have been really good; they’ve always been really good in the wide receiver room. Everyone’s asking questions and I would say everyone knows the offense in our receiver room pretty well.”
Falck was the only senior on the offensive side of the ball who opted to use his extra year, but the return of the seniors on defense is also having a big impact on the other side of the ball.
“It’s making us a lot better as an offense because our defense is playing really well to start off this spring ball,” Falck said. “How many returners do we have, like eight? Sixth-year seniors on our defense makes it a challenge for us but I’ve seen the growth that our offense has been making just from playing such a good defense. It’s been really good.”
Falck was also a significant contributor on special teams, recording a blocked punt against Purdue. Falck echoed earlier comments from the coaches about a change in the way the Huskers are handling special teams in practice this spring.
“It’s way bigger of an emphasis this year,” Falck said. “We start every practice out and that’s the first thing we do is special teams and we’re moving full speed every drill on special teams. We definitely need to make a huge improvement this year.”
Falck said the Huskers started every practice with team tempo drills pitting the offense against the defense. Special teams followed after that. This year, the third phase of the game is coming first.
“I think it’s just different, that’s the first thing you’re going to do, that’s the biggest emphasis of the day and it makes a big difference,” Falck said.
Like Nebraska’s other seniors, Levi Falck is back for one last ride in Lincoln. He just took a more low-key approach to his announcement.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.