The 2019 Nebraska senior class has several members with one rather unique distinction.
Some of those members of the senior class who redshirted were originally recruited by Bo Pelini. That group includes twins Khalil and Carlos Davis.
The defensive linemen committed to Pelini, and then went ahead and signed after Pelini was fired and Mike Riley was named head coach.
After a redshirt season, they played two seasons for Riley before he was fired and Scott Frost took over as head coach for the last two years.
Yes, this senior class has not had an easy time of it. Eric Lee, Avery Anderson, the Davis twins, Christian Gaylord (who is out with an inury), Daishon Neal, Mohamed Barry and Alex Davis were all members of that 2015 class.
“There’s a lot of guys I have ended up being close to,” junior tight end Jack Stoll said. “We have all been through a lot. We’ve just got to go and sell out for them. They have gone through a lot here. I think we owe it to them to go out there and give it our all.”
Reid Karel, Wyatt Mazour, Chase Urbach, Fyn Anderson and Austin Hemphill were walk-ons that year who will be going through Senior Day festivities.
“These seniors have been through a lot by now,” Frost said. “They have been recruited by one staff, played for another staff, played for a whole new staff. It has certainly experienced some ups and downs.
“The guys that are still here out of this senior class have fought through a lot and we appreciate so much the effort they have given.”
And now it’s down to this. Beat Iowa Friday and the seniors will get 15 more practices together and will have the opportunity to play in a bowl game. Lose to the Hawkeyes and their careers are over.
“It means everything because I will do anything to be able to play with my brothers and this team,” Khalil Davis said after a loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 16. “I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve been with these guys every day. It means everything to have another game to play with them.”
The underclassmen understand how important it is to give the seniors one more game.
“The seniors have been through a lot here,” sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “I will always be thankful for that group. I know this team will be as well. We are really just focused on this week. We want to do our best each day here and prepare appropriately for Iowa.”
Frost remembers his own Senior Day back in 1997. The Huskers beat Iowa State 77-14 on Nov. 15 that year and went on to win the program’s third national title in four seasons in the last year under legendary coach Tom Osborne.
“Yeah, Senior Day was special for me,” Frost said. “I think it’s special for all the guys the last time they get a chance to be out there. Hopefully in a game like this, playing a really good team, last game of the year, you don’t need any more juice. I think it’s just a special opportunity for guys to enjoy it one last time.”
Cornerback Lamar Jackson is the one member of the 2016 recruiting class who didn’t redshirt and is now completing his eligibility. Jackson has 35 career starts under his belt with one more regular season game to go.
Frost said when his staff first arrived, they had some trouble with some of the defensive backs just making sure they were doing things the right way and were good teammates.
“The guys that are still here from that group are doing everything we ask them,” Frost said. “I love seeing them every day. Lamar has a smile on his face all the time. He’s improved in a lot of ways. Particularly in the way he will come up and hit now and try to play physical.
“I wish we had him for four years because I really appreciate what he has done and the progress he has made.”
Defensive back Dicaprio Bootle joined the program at the same time as Jackson, but he redshirted his first year.
“That’s my brother,” Bootle said. “After this he’s exhausted all his eligibility. After this there won’t be any more Nebraska football for Lamar Jackson in Memorial Stadium. This one is big for him to go out there and lay it on the line. Give it all he’s got. That’s my guy to the end.
“That’s a friend for life. A brother to have for life. I know I can call him, talk to him about anything. He (can) call me, talk (to) me about anything as well as the rest of the seniors in the room. Eric Lee, Reid Karel, and Jeramiah Stovall. All those guys.”
Stovall is an interesting senior. He was on campus for the 2015 season, but didn’t join the team until the spring when he earned a spot through a walk-on tryout.
Now the senior from Creighton Prep is second on the team in special team tackles with seven.
Barry is the emotional leader for the Huskers on defense, as well as the team leader in tackles with 83. Barry and the rest of the seniors had to be tough to go through what they’ve been through.
“It’s a certain type of toughness that you have to have,” Bootle said. “Every guy in that room right now is tough. Every senior on our roster are tough guys. Everyone that’s been here throughout the years (have) been through the ups and the downs.
“Those are tough guys and we respect them and this is their last dance in Memorial Stadium and we want to send them off the right way.”