After Matt Masker accepted a Nebraska walk-on offer for the football program, he knew his role was more than just playing football.

Masker has seen the history of the Nebraska walk-on program thrive, and he has also seen crumble.

“Getting the walk-on program going again, I think that is really going to change Nebraska football,” Masker said. “It may not be super-fast, and it's going to take time. You are going to have to find guys to make that sacrifice and love this program more than anything else.

“People ask why Nebraska kind of went away from being dominant, and I personally think the biggest reason is because we went away from such a strong walk-on tradition of guys that will come in and push those scholarship guys to their full potential every day; guys that want to bleed for the program (and) guys that have known the program and grown up and being big fans as kids.”

Masker's chances of being a Husker were not always known. He had offers from South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Drake and Northern Iowa. He was on the radar of previous Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and staff after attending camps and Friday Night Lights, but Riley offered Belton, Missouri's, Bart Harris the quarterback walk-on offer.

After Riley was fired and Scott Frost introduced as the 33rd Nebraska head coach, Masker quickly gained his walk-on offer. Harris later committed to Tennessee with a preferred walk-on offer.

“I was second in line to (Harris), so I was kind of their No. 2 option,” Masker said. “Without Coach Frost, who knows, I probably wouldn't have gotten this opportunity.

“It is just one of those opportunities that you can't pass up that is so special. It is something that felt so meant to be, like I am supposed to be there. I think everything happens for a reason, and I think Coach Frost is exactly where he is supposed to be.”

The 6-foot-2 Kearney Catholic quarterback just shattered numerous Class C-1 career records held by Frost, including touchdown passes (86) and passing yards (7,050).

“It is something that is really unique, and really cool,” he said. “It's kind of a cool story. The chances of me breaking those (records) the same year Coach Frost is coming back to Nebraska is extremely humbling. Just to be considered in the same sentence as Coach Frost as far as football goes is pretty special to me and humbling.”

The two also share a similar playing style. Kearney Catholic head coach Rashawn Harvey likes to spread the field on opponents, just like Frost liked to at stops with Oregon and Central Florida.

Masker, typically recruited as a pro-style quarterback, added his legs to his arsenal his senior season with a career high in carries (89) and rushing yards (341) for a formula similar to what Frost likes to see in his quarterbacks.

“The only reason people didn't think I (was) capable of doing it before was it really wasn't in our system at Kearney Catholic as far as me having to run around everywhere and make plays with my legs,” Masker said. “Coach Harvey wanted to keep me healthy my whole high school career and didn't want to go that route of having me carry the ball 10 times a game."

"Watching Central Florida this past season, it honestly reminds me a lot of what we did at (Kearney Catholic)," Masker said. "Spread out, up-tempo and something I am very familiar with and used to. Obviously, the speed of the game in college is going to be a huge difference that every one has to adjust to. As what they did offensively, it's really not a whole lot different than what we did in high school."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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