The walk-on program. That phrase packs a punch for former players, coaches and fans alike in Nebraska.
With Scott Frost’s reign as the Husker head football coach under way, he addressed the role that Nebraska’s walk-on tradition will play for his team.
“When I was growing up, every kid in the state of Nebraska dreamed about running out here on this stadium, on this field, wearing a red 'N' on their helmet," Frost said, "There’s too many kids in this state at other schools, and we are going to do everything to make sure those kids are here."
Tom Osborne, who orchestrated the lasting legacy of walk-ons since his days as a Nebraska assistant in the 1960s, said he didn’t know what would be different.
The walk-on program, Osborne said, is always a numbers game.
Back in 1973, when Osborne became head coach, scholarship limits were reduced to 105 per team. They continued to drop until 1992, when the current 85-player limit was instituted.
“We thought if we were able to get 20 of the better kids in the state to walk on, that would build some depth,” Osborne said, “We realized that numbers were a part of it.”
More than just the numbers, it's the impact.
Sunday, former Huskers from all eras came to Memorial Stadium, with Nebraska football on their minds.
The impact of the Nebraska program, and the walk-on tradition, was evident.
“From Day 1, I wanted to play football at Nebraska,” former defensive end Jay Moore said. “I had offers from other Division I schools in the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. But as soon as I got the offer (from NU), the summer before my senior year, I committed the very next day.”
Frost said that there will have to be sacrifices made to make the walk-on program work, but he made it clear he plans on it.
“This place needs that. I’m looking forward to build the walk-on program, and make it what it was before,” Frost said.