The Nebraska athletic department recognized the success of former student-athletes during Saturday’s football game against Michigan State.
NU surpassed 300 all-time Academic All-Americans during the 2012-13 academic year, making Nebraska the first college or university in any division to have that many.
A total of 223 Nebraska student-athletes have earned the school’s nation-leading 307 Academic All-America certificates, and more than 100 of them were honored during halftime. Notre Dame is second on the list with 231 Academic All-Americans.
The Nebraska football team leads all programs nationally with 104 Academic All-Americans.
Former Husker Mike Brown attended Saturday’s game, and was recognized for his success in both football and academics.
Brown was an Academic All-American in 1999, and said it ranks near the top of his numerous awards while a Husker.
“It’s hard being a student-athlete, and the outside public just thinks you’re an athlete,” Brown said. “They don’t realize that being a student-athlete is difficult. You get help and you get scholarships, and that’s cool, but it’s hard. I’m very proud of my academic success. My parents instilled that in me when I was young, and I feel good about that. There are a whole bunch of football players who can say, ‘I’m talented' or whatever, but putting in the work to be a good student I think is really important.”
Inside the stadium there's a sign honoring Nebraska's Academic All-Americans. There are paintings of each one in a hallway outside the training table.
And then Saturday the past student-athletes were honored in front of 90,000 fans at Memorial Stadium.
“It shows what Nebraska’s about; it’s not just about athletics,” Brown said. “Yeah, athletics is important, but to have 300-plus Academic All-Americans shows you the type of person that comes to this school and the people we have looking over the athletic department.”
The first-team All-America defensive back was voted by NU fans as one of the Huskers’ top Blackshirts in the 50-year tradition of Nebraska's first-string defense. He was on the 1997 national championship team.
Brown retired after a long NFL career and lives with his family in San Clemente, Calif.
Nebraska picked up a couple of commitments before Saturday’s game began, then hosted a large group of recruits for the game.
On Saturday morning, the Huskers added a commitment from junior-college wide receiver Robert Lockhart. Jaevon Walton, a linebacker from New Orleans, also committed.
Nebraska had seven official visitors, and at least 15 others making unofficial visits.
One of the official visitors was Chance Waz, a cornerback from Texas who is listed as committed to Colorado. Waz had his phone out and was taking video of the crowd during the Nebraska Tunnel Walk.
Three Husker commitments also were making their official visits: quarterback Zack Darlington, defensive back Trai Mosley and wide receiver Demornay Pierson-El.
* Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong having a long conversation with a coach on the headset after Armstrong threw an interception in the first quarter.
* After watching the last home game from the press box, injured quarterback Taylor Martinez was back on the Husker sideline. At one point, he motioned for fans to cheer the Husker defense.
* The grandparents of Huskers Spencer and Jake Long have shirts that say, ‘G-PA 41/61' and 'G-MA 41/61.' Before Spencer Long suffered a season-ending injury, a family member said the grandparents would decide before each play that one of them would watch Spencer (No. 61) on the play, and the other would watch Jake (No. 41).
* There was a ringing in your ears from all the noise following Randy Gregory’s sack of Spartan quarterback Connor Cook for a 9-yard loss in the second quarter.
* A chorus of boos directed toward the officials following a kick-catching interference penalty on Nebraska in the second quarter — only briefly interrupted because the Nebraska softball team was honored for reaching the Women’s College World Series in 2013. Then the boos resumed. The women’s gymnastics team and women’s tennis team also were honored for winning Big Ten titles last season.
-- Brent C. Wagner