In Saturday night’s 43-36 win over Arkansas State in front of another sellout crowd, JD Spielman returned a kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown. That would be special enough on its own as the Huskers' first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2013.
It also happened to be JD Spielman’s first collegiate touch.
The redshirt freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, had a heck of an introduction to Husker Nation.
Spielman has a famous father. His dad is Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, a guy who's seen a lot of football, so of course he had a reaction to the 99-yard touchdown.
"My dad, he was pretty excited for me from a football standpoint," Spielman said. "He was proud of me as a father and also as a coaching figure. At the same time, he also joked around. 'Next time, don’t point.' I kind of learned my lesson on that one but he is definitely proud. He said if you are going to make a play like that at least try not to get a penalty.”
You could chalk it up to being young or just excited about the first touchdown, but Spielman definitely wasn't thinking about potential penalties mid-run.
“Honestly I didn’t even know I wasn’t allowed to point," he said. "I thought it was completely legal until I got to the sideline and everyone started telling me not to point. So now I know not to point. I realized when I started pointing I slowed down a little bit so that’s why I put my hand back down.
"I had to speed up again because there was a possibility of getting caught. I thought there’d be nothing worse than pointing at the 40 and getting caught at the 30.”
There had been a good amount of talk leading up to the first game from Mike Riley about how Scott Booker’s enthusiasm for special teams is infectious. Last week that enthusiasm included the potential for a Spielman return.
“I remember me and him were talking about it the whole week," Spielman said. "He kept saying I had a good chance to bring one back. I kept telling him that I was going to do all that I could to bring one back. So I found him on the sideline [after the return] and I looked at him, smiled and said 'I told you I was going to bring one back.' We laughed a little bit and then we were back to focusing on the game.”
You would think that scoring a touchdown in your first college action would be on your mind quite a bit. Not for Spielman, who said that it didn’t hit him until after the game when people were really talking about it.
Husker fans have certainly taken notice of his first touch being a touchdown. Surely future opponents are taking notice as well.
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.