Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

Welcome to Nebraska

July 29, 2017

In the midst of all the hats, mini helmets, posters and fans, one shirt stood out.

As Tyjon Lindsey, a freshman wide receiver who made waves last spring when he flipped from Ohio State, sat at a table in the west stands of Memorial Stadium signing autographs for the thousands of Nebraska faithful that turned out for Fan Day, a man walked up to him wearing a red shirt with the words “350 consecutive sell-outs” across the chest.

Welcome to Nebraska.

“There’s nothing better and it’s second to none,” Lindsey said.

Nebraska’s fan base is a major source of pride throughout the Cornhusker state, a national story, and, as Lindsey put it, hectic. His first real exposure to them as a member of the Huskers’ football family didn’t disappoint.

“It’s unconditional love,” he said. “Although we haven’t made plays yet, these fans believe we have enough potential to do that and that’s why they’re considering us the rising stars.”

The line for Lindsey, and the rest of the freshman class, rivaled that of any other position group on the field. Maybe only head coach Mike Riley, who’s line of fans stretched goal line to goal line, was longer. Beginning at the 20-yard-line and stretching out to the midfield logo and then straight towards the fifth row up in the west stands where Lindsey was waiting, Nebraska crazies decked out in varying shades of red from head to toe waited to introduce the freshmen to the Huskers.

“Welcome to Nebraska,” was tossed around too many times to count and selfies were taken at every chance available.

“You’re going to be overwhelmed with craziness,” Terry Warner, a lifelong Nebraska resident and fan, said. “There’s just no other place like this.”

Where else do you find this kind of unbridled excitement for a team? Where else do 80,000 people pack a stadium for a spring football exhibition? Where else do fans wait in line for two hours to get the autograph of a wide receiver who has yet to catch a pass for their team?

“It just doesn’t happen,” Warner said. Part of the fandom is the lack of another established college or professional team in the state to siphon attention away. But part is just the love that fans have for the players and the school.

“They go all out for the players and I love it,” Lindsey said. “I know the fans love the players and the players of course love the fans. It’s real right now.”

And even as the excitement was palpable at the beginning of the freshman table, it didn’t wane by the time you reached the end, some 20 yards down, and Deontre Thomas.

“I love it,” he said. “It doesn’t get better than this.”

As Thomas posed for pictures, he said the kind of atmosphere that the fans create is one that just inspires him to work harder, push more. “It just makes me happy and makes me want to play and make them happy and win,” he said.

For Lindsey and Thomas, this event didn’t just serve as a meet and greet between them and the fans that will be cheering them on for years to come, it was a confidence boost.

“It just helps me really know who’s really here for me and that the fans, no matter what you go through although you haven’t made a play, are always going to love you,” Lindsey said. “It’s great right now that we’re doing this so it can boost our confidence before football actually starts.”

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