If you closed your eyes and listened to the play-by-play call, you’d think it was a Friday night at Bellevue West. It wasn’t though. This was a Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Husker freshman wide receiver Zavier Betts took a flip pass 45-yards around the end for a touchdown. That was something Nebraska high school football fans have seen many times from the Thunderbirds alum.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 14, 2020
“It definitely did feel like back in high school,” Betts said Saturday following Nebraska’s 30-23 win over Penn State. “When we put that play in earlier this week I was like wait a minute, we ran that play in high school. I’m going to love this play. When I got that call during the game, I was just excited. There were no nerves in me. I was ready to go. I wanted that so bad.”
It was sometimes easy to overlook Betts among all of the newcomers to Nebraska football this offseason. It also took a lot of work to get him to Lincoln. He rewarded the faith that Nebraska showed in him by getting academically cleared.
Betts was always a special talent so it was just a matter of time—and plenty of hard work—before he could show it.
“It’s been a lot of getting reps with the quarterbacks,” Betts said. “Getting a lot of extra help with from coaches and other players. So, it’s been a grind since day one. I’ve been busting my ass all this whole time. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m glad to be here.
“It’s been an honest grind the whole time that I’ve been here. Getting my first couple plays on the field I wouldn’t even say that I was nervous. I was more excited than anything. I wanted to be on the field. I wanted to get out there and I wanted to show everybody what I can do on the field.”
There has been a lot of talk over the first few weeks of the season about which wide receivers are getting out on the field for Nebraska. The Huskers have had such a hard time getting anything explosive in the pass game. It was a welcome sight to see the talented freshman getting on the field for more snaps. Nebraska made a point to try to get the ball in the hands of its playmakers.
Betts is clearly one of those playmakers, as Coach Scott Frost noted following the game.
“That kid has a chance. Zavier has a chance to be a really good football player here,” Frost said. “Since he got here he’s become more and more committed to trying to be really good. If he commits himself to this and knows what he’s doing all the time and does things the right way he’s going to find his way on the field and he’s got a chance to be a special player for us. It means a lot to me. I care about all the kids so much but just seeing a homegrown kid have that kind of success is really special.”
Frost has said in recent weeks that knowledge of the playbook is holding his young receivers back from seeing more action. Betts has been putting in that work. He said that hes been doing signal reviews just about every day with quarterbacks. The quarterback makes the call and the receiver has to call out the signal. Then the wideout says what their position handles on that play.
Betts credits that work with helping him feel more confident on the field to play fast and free. Once everything clicks for Betts, he will be a force for the Huskers. Sophomore wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson can see the potential.
“It’s through the roof,” Robinson said. “Just some of the things that you see him doing. Just running and jumping. You’re like this kid can be special and I tell him that all the time. I’m like, ‘dude you can really be special you just got to keep working and come to work every day and just do the right things and everything’s going to fall right into place.’”
With a lot of hard work and natural talent, things could be coming together for Betts. Perhaps we’ll look back at a play borrowed from his high school days as the catalyst for a great career in Lincoln.
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.