Two months after Scott Frost took the Nebraska job, Norfolk native Lane McCallum announced he was coming home. McCallum, a 2017 graduate who spent his first year at Air Force as a kicker, transferred to Nebraska to walk on as a safety.
McCallum sat out last season according to NCAA transfer rules. He did not play in Nebraska’s first two games, but he was on the travel roster for week two at Colorado. McCallum finally made his Husker debut on Saturday against Northern Illinois, but it wasn’t at safety.
It was at place kicker.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to [kick again],” McCallum said. “I’m not a big fan of just being a kicker straight up. But obviously right now I’m just doing it to serve the team. Whatever the team needs, I’m going to do it. That’s kind of where I’m at right now with being a kicker. I never really thought it was going to happen though, that situation.”
“That situation” is injuries to Nebraska’s top two kickers, sophomore Barret Pickering and true freshman walk-on Dylan Jorgensen. Punter Isaac Armstrong handled the place-kicking responsibilities against Colorado and early against Northern Illinois, but he had an extra point and two field goal attempts blocked by the Huskies.
When Nebraska scored on a 27-yard touchdown throw to Kanawai Noa, it was McCallum, not Armstrong, who trotted out onto the field for the extra point attempt. He knocked it through.
“Honestly, it was so quick and I didn’t even know what was going on,” McCallum said. “We scored and Coach [Zach] Krespo yelled at me ‘Lane, go kick this one.’ I was like, ‘All right,’ and just ran out there. No time to get nervous, no time to think. I just kicked it and it went in.”
Nebraska scored two more touchdowns in the second half and McCallum converted both of the extra points in the 44-8 win.
“For me personally, it’s not hard,” McCallum said. “I’ve kicked my whole life. Just wasn’t anything new to me.”
McCallum converted 120 of his 123 extra point attempts in high school and made 20 of his 31 field goal attempts for the Panthers. He also played a little of pretty much everything outside of the trenches in high school.
McCallum was one of eight players who made their Husker debuts against Northern Illinois according to the participation chart.
“I’ve played basketball with him since sixth grade,” said sophomore tight end and Aurora native Austin Allen. “He’s worked his tail off. Since they said they needed kickers, Lane said ‘This is my element, this is what I did a Air Force’ and told the coaches he can kick, and he’s proved them right every time he’s gone out there, just putting it though the uprights, and that’s all we can ask for.”
McCallum and Allen played basketball together for the Nebraska Bison AAU program. Back-up quarterback Noah Vedral, a Wahoo Neumann graduate, also played for that Bison team. Vedral made his season debut against the Huskies and scored his second touchdown as a Husker late in the game, which set up McCallum’s last extra point.
Pickering has yet to play this season as he’s recovering from a preseason injury. Jorgensen kicked in week one against South Alabama but joined Pickering on the injured list after that. With true freshman walk-on Gabe Heins as the only healthy kicker on the roster, Frost opened up the competition to others with a kicking background. That included Armstrong and McCallum.
“The whole team, honestly, kind of did it,” McCallum said. “They all knew that I’ve been a kicker and they just kept saying ‘Hey, Lane can kick, Lane can kick, throw Lane in there, get Lane a series.’ After a couple weeks of it, finally one of the coaches said ‘All right, let’s do it, let’s give him chance,’ and I’m trying to make the most of it.”
The coaches went with Armstrong but McCallum continued to get practice reps, and he was ready when called upon on Saturday.
“I had a big decision to make a week ago, who to make kick,” First said. “I talked to the kickers. One was hurt before the game. One was hurt during the game. I trust Isaac a lot because of how well he's done punting but Lane kicked well all week. Practice too. Just the first time I'd ever see him kick, it was hard for me to roll the dice on that but we're going to keep giving him opportunities. He's done a great job at practice. Did a good job tonight.”
Special teams coach Jovan Dewitt said that Pickering had been doing some light kicking in practice the last couple of weeks, but he has yet to put on the pads. Until his return, however, McCallum is ready to answer the call.
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.