Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Veteran Huskers Juggle Emotions of Senior Day and Looming Decisions

November 15, 2022

A dozen Nebraska football players are planned to participate in Senior Day activities before Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff against Wisconsin. This way they can be recognized individually by Husker fans even with remaining eligibility. Players told coaches, like interim head coach Mickey Joseph, if they wanted to participate in Senior Day activities.

“Some of them, that’s going to be their last game in Husker Stadium,” Joseph said in his Tuesday press conference. “We want anyone that’s considering walking that’s going to be on our team next year, we want you to walk and have that experience.

“I want to commend our seniors through a lot of transition. They haven’t got the wins that they wanted, but they’ve been standout kids for this program.”

Team captains Caleb Tannor and Travis Vokolek are walking on Saturday. For Vokolek, it’s the culmination of a strange journey. He debuted as a Husker during the 2020 COVID season when public health requirements limited fan attendance. He caught his first touchdown as a Husker against his former team at Rutgers, then returned to Lincoln to score his only home touchdown so far on the 56-yard catch-and-run against Illinois.

Vokolek acknowledged his Nebraska career didn’t involve all the team accolades he anticipated. That caused mixed feelings ahead of the home finale. The totality of a final home game didn’t occur to him until he was in bed around 10 p.m. on Sunday night. His college football career dragged over six years but each memory slipped through his grasp as he relived them that night — unable to walk those same shoes again.

“It seems like I’ve been in college forever but it flew by really quick,” Vokolek said. “I’m going to miss everything about this university.”

Saturday is also Broc Bando’s last time playing in Memorial Stadium. When asked about his favorite memory as a Husker, Bando’s immediate thought went to something history will say never happened. The Tunnel Walk ahead of the 2018 Akron game — the first under head coach Scott Frost.

“I’d never heard the tunnel that loud before,” Bando said. “Sadly, we didn’t get to play that game, we got rained out, but that jumps out to me.”

He also fondly remembered the winter conditioning sessions. Players bonded through those tough sessions, intertwining teammates who came to Nebraska from all over the country at various points.

The Senior Day walk also provides a ceremonial goodbye for those with remaining eligibility. They could thank Husker fans before transferring. Joseph said if a player decided to walk on Saturday but return to Nebraska, he’d be happy to let them participate twice. The interim head coach wasn’t asked directly about many players but, after looking towards the university’s communications team, he confirmed wide receiver Trey Palmer won’t participate in the Senior Walk.

Team captain edge Garrett Nelson told those gathered that he won’t walk on Senior Day. Still, the last home game of the season meant something to him. The homegrown Husker was asked to give a message to Nebraska fans who stuck through this year, and many trying years before.

“As a Nebraskan and knowing how much this team and the university means to this state and these people, as a Nebraska kid I got to see the constant support and love that we give for our team means everything to us,” the Scottsbluff native said. “People who keep showing up through adversity kind of tells you the type of people that we have in this state and the kind of heart that they have. There’s no words, I can’t really thank them enough.”

Nelson was directly asked if he’ll return next season.

“I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. He’ll see how things unfold.

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