Cameron Meredith considers himself a student of Nebraska football, especially when it comes the rich history of the defensive line.
So Meredith was beaming as he read a congratulatory tweet from Jason Peter after last week's win over Chattanooga. Peter was a defensive anchor on Nebraska's three national championship teams of the mid-1990s.
"It's humbling to hear he's watching," Meredith said.
Oh, Peter's been watching for a couple years now.
Peter said Meredith, with his fiery playing style, reminds him of one of the ends he played with, former NFL star Grant Wistrom.
"I saw him playing his heart out," Peter said. "It wasn't just a matter of he ended up with two or three sacks and an interception. It was more about the effort. It's the same thing I saw back in his freshman year."
Peter, who lives in Lincoln and dabbles in broadcasting, has never met Meredith but said he looked him up on Twitter because he wanted to encourage him to keep up the good work.
"I think it's important for there to be a connection between the old and the new," he said.
Peter said there's a brotherhood among past and present Nebraska defensive linemen. Until Ndamukong Suh came along and dominated the college game in 2008-09, Peter was concerned about a drop-off in Nebraska's line play.
The Huskers had at least one first-team All-American on its defensive line in 12 of 18 seasons starting in 1980. But Suh in 2009 was the first since Peter was honored in 1997.
"I would say we take a lot of pride in being on the defensive front for the University of Nebraska,'' Meredith said. ''Tons of legends have been through here and played defensive line. I think our coaches kind of harp on that. I think all of us have a responsibility to uphold that tradition and carry the team a little bit."
Nationally, Jared Crick is the face of the 10th-ranked Huskers' defensive line, but folks around college football could be talking a lot about Meredith if he continues to be as disruptive as he was against Chattanooga.
Meredith, who played a bit more than half the defensive snaps against Chattanooga, finished with two sacks and narrowly missed a third. He already has surpassed his 2010 sack total.
The junior from Huntington Beach, Calif., also intercepted a pass tipped by Crick to set up a second-half touchdown.
"I thought I was pretty productive," he said.
Peter said the stat sheet doesn't tell the whole story. Meredith's quick initial inside step gives him an advantage over the man trying to block him, as does his knack for winning hand-to-hand combat. Then there's his great intangible - relentlessness.
"There is that it' factor that some players either have or they don't," Peter said. "When I watched him that first time, I thought he had that `it' factor."
Meredith started all 14 games last season and was a second-team All-Big 12 pick despite playing with a painful left shoulder injury. He had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum and missed spring practice.
As he rehabbed he focused on strengthening himself on the mental part of the game and mentored less experienced defensive ends like Jason Ankrah, Joe Carter, Eric Martin and Josh Williams. Meredith said he was a bit hesitant with his left shoulder at the start of preseason practice but had confidence he would play at a high level again.
"I had trust in the doctors and the rehab. I had shoulder surgery in high school. I knew I'd come back just fine - even better actually," he said. "It's stronger than before."
Meredith credits Suh, now with the Detroit Lions, for showing him the right way to go about his work.
"Every day in practice he'd go 100 percent every play no matter what, because he knew he was going to get better from it," Meredith said.
Peter said he wouldn't be surprised if Meredith is mentioned among the greats by the time he's finished.
"Last year, he was kind of dinged up here and there," Peter said. "But seeing him come out Saturday and combining that motor with now having a real understanding of what they want to do on defense, and what his role is, brought a smile to my face."