About an hour prior to kickoff, fans began filing into the West side of Memorial Stadium for the 54th Annual Shrine Bowl. Nebraska's most talented seniors took the field on the state's most prestigious gridiron, an honor that will likely be a one-time occurrence for many of these young men.
However, there were a select few who will be returning to Memorial stadium this fall. Thirteen future Husker walk-ons played in Saturday's Shrine Bowl. Here is how some of the future Huskers performed on Saturday.
Simpson scores early
It didn't take long for the game to get its first score. Grand Island QB Ryker Fyfe dropped back on the third play of the game only to have his pass deflected by a member of the South team's defensive line. With the ball in the air, Ralston LB/S Brad Simpson (Husker walk-on) snatched it up around the 12-yard line and found an open lane to the end-zone. One of the North players chased him down, but Simpson bulldozed him en route to the game's first touchdown. The score gave the South an early 7-0 lead
Simpson taking in for the touchdown (Photo By: Eric Oslund)
"It was a great way to start off the game," Simpson said. "Once I caught on to it I knew I was going to score. I never had a pick-six in high school so I'm happy I finally got one in my high school career." Simpson also had a sack on the day.
Simpson was named as the game's defensive MVP.
Fyfe follows shaky start with solid drive
Following the interception, Fyfe put together a solid drive for the North squad. The entire drive consisted of four and five wide receiver sets in which Fyfe displayed some accurate close-range passes. He also demonstrated a decent level of mobility on a handful of scrambles, but nothing too explosive. Fyfe's long-range passing was his biggest drawback, especially when he under-threw a wide open receiver down field.
Fyfe's inconsistent first half, however, was followed by an efficient second half. He threw for a pair of touchdowns.
Reilly's big day
The South squad utilized a run-heavy offense for much of the first half but switched to a spread-attack toward the end of the second quarter. Lincoln Southwest's Brandon Reilley was listed as a DB, yet his contributions at WR far outshined his play at defensive back. He had four catches in the second quarter alone and became QB Derek McGinnis's go-to-guy.
This trend continued in the second half. On third-and-short in the third quarter, McGinnis scrambled outside the pocket and heaved a prayer up to the end zone. Reilly, who found himself one-on-one with the cornerback, out-jumped the coverage at the five yard line and carried him into the end zone. This was by far the best receiving play of the day, and arguably the games top overall play.
Reilly also added two stellar kick-returns to his resume and was named as the game's offensive MVP. "I had a blast," he said. "I had a lot of family and friends here so it was good to perform well. I made a lot of new friends here this week. It's been a blast."
"I'm excited to get on campus," he explained. "I move in tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it."
If there was one player to watch on Saturday, it was Gretna's Andy Janovich. Is there anything this kid can't do? Seriously. In a game with the state's most talented seniors, Janovich literally did everything.
Throughout the game, Janovich lined up at LB, RB, and WR, and it didn't matter which position he played he dominated them all. I was actually surprised he wasn't kicking field goals as well.
The play that best defines Janovich occurred early in the first half. Janovich, who was lined up at RB, received a dump-pass with three-to-four players in his path. It took all four players to take him down, stopping him just short of the goal-line. Janovich plays with a level of strength and intensity that went unmatched the entire day.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I love playing in this stadium." Janovich hasn't talked to any of the current players, but is excited to get on campus and begin his Husker career.
Foltz makes his mark
When Sam Foltz gets to Lincoln this fall, he will be competing for positions at both punter and wide receiver. Early in the second half, Foltz made his case as to why he shouldn't be overlooked for a receiving position. Grand Island teammate Ryker Fyfe connected with a wide-open Foltz down the middle of the field for the North's first touchdown on the day. This made the score 10-24 in favor of the South squad.
Dzuris's good pressure
The North squad was in the red zone when Fyfe dropped back on third down looking for a receiver. Good coverage by the South squad forced him to scramble outside the pocket, but 6-foot 4-inch, 235-pound defensive end Ross Dzuris was there to break up the play and any chance of a touchdown. Fyfe danced around trying to get Dzuris to bite, but he stood his ground and made the tackle.
Offensive – WR Brandon Reilly
Defensive – S/LB Brad Simpson
- Josh Harvey -