Huston says his infamous punch is in his past

2004-08-26T19:00:00Z Huston says his infamous punch is in his pastBRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Imagine the stupidest thing you ever did was caught on videotape, then released for the entire country to see.

It'd be shown on SportsCenter and Fox News, making your mistake a barroom topic from West Palm to Palm Springs. On talk radio, people would talk about what a punk you were all because of five seconds of TV footage.

Sounds like no fun?

Sounds like Nebraska senior cornerback Kellen Huston's life 10 months ago.

On Oct. 11, following Nebraska's 41-24 defeat at Missouri, thousands of Tigers fans trespassed onto the field to celebrate the school's first win over the Huskers since 1978. In the middle of the party, television cameras caught Huston delivering a fist to the face of one of those fans, 21-year-old Matthew Scott.

Scott fell and cupped his nose in agony. Just like that, Huston - the medical student with the 3.9 GPA, the hard-working football player who overcame walk-on odds to gain a scholarship - had muddied his good name.

"It bothered me, but I'm going to say that people are going to make their own assumptions about that," said Huston, who has rarely talked publicly about the incident since it occurred. "It's something that happened in the blink of an eye. That's all I can say about it really. I'm trying to not sound like I'm arrogant about it here, but it's one of those things that happened in the past.

"It's an event in my life that I've learned from and I always remember and take something from it."

A one-game suspension was given to Huston, and, later, a $500 court fine after he pleaded guilty to public disturbance of fighting, a Class B misdemeanor.

A civil suit was also recently settled - Scott wanted compensation for surgery to his broken nose - though neither Huston nor Scott's lawyer, John Picerno, would comment on the details of it.

For teammates close to Huston, the incident in no way characterizes the man who is slated this preseason as the No. 2 cornerback behind Fabian Washington.

Huston is one of the smartest guys on the team, after all. The player known for tutoring teammates free of charge wants to be an orthopedic surgeon when finished with medical school.

Senior kicker Sandro DeAngelis first met Huston at a Husker football camp while both were high school seniors in 1999. They quickly became close friends, which seems fitting since Huston is now the place-kicking holder for NU.

"He's the type of guy you'd like your sister to date," DeAngelis said. "He's the type of guy you'd like to become your brother-in-law type of thing. He's a tremendous person and for such an instant in time to define him is absolutely ludicrous.

"It's amazing to turn on SportsCenter and see him portrayed like a villain, when in essence he's a 21-year-old guy who made a stupid mistake. Given those circumstances, with that many drunk people charging the field, a number of things can go through your head."

Indeed, it shouldn't be overlooked how dangerous and distasteful most college football post-field celebrations have become.

Huston didn't want to get into what Scott said to him before the punch, saying it no longer matters.

But Huston did say: "People see one side of stuff, and they assume they know everything. It frustrated me that people didn't try to see both sides."

Huston's punch only added steam to the growing argument as to why fans need to keep their post-game victory parties off the field.

"There's some fans who are out there that want to congratulate their players," DeAngelis said. "But at the same time, there's a lot of people who are drunk and have been saying some mean things to you the whole game and they're charging at you. There's thousands of them, and you only have your teammates, so it's an unfair fight."

"If you heard some of the things fans say to us during games, you'd understand where we're coming from. Put it this way. If we would have lost to Southern Miss (last year), we might not have gotten off the field alive because the fans can be ruthless sometimes, and they had a pretty rowdy student section."

In any case, Huston's punch was still a major sin. But he's paid his penance and wants to move on.

He's content to going back to his role as the unheralded guy from Ankeny, Iowa, just thrilled to be playing big-time college football.

He labeled being a Husker as a "dream come true." He just earned a scholarship last year, something that seemed beyond his wildest dreams when he first arrived here as a walk-on.

After all, his home state's schools of Iowa and Iowa State all but ignored him during the recruiting process. Nebraska liked his academics and his football desire. He was an ironman at his high school who played four sports and about every position when he got on a football field.

"These are the people that treated me right out of high school," Huston said. "They showed me that you don't have to be an all-star player to live your dreams. I mean, I was living my dreams as a walk-on. I didn't have to get that scholarship, but I'm glad I did."

When asked what his greatest play as a Husker has been, Huston says there's a two-way tie.

He first mentioned a fake field goal run against Colorado last year, in which he tucked the ball under his wing as the holder and ran for 15 yards for a first down in a 31-22 win.

The other play came against Kansas State. Game tied at 7, NU kicker David Dyches had a field goal blocked to end the first half.

A Wildcats player picked the ball up and was headed for a touchdown, only to be tackled by a determined Huston as time expired.

That play did not make SportsCenter. And, one supposes, that's just fine.

Being on TV is overrated.

Reach Brian Christopherson at 473-7438 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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