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Former teammates say Frost is ready for challenge of rebuilding Huskers

From the From Orlando to Lincoln in 48 hours: Charting Scott Frost's Husker homecoming series
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Joel Makovicka knows.

The Brainard native who played eight-man football at East Butler High School, walked on at Nebraska, became a starter on a national championship team and played four years in the NFL understands the unique pride the state's natives take in seeing their own don the scarlet and cream on Saturdays.

"Nebraska's a unique state like that. They like to see their own succeed. It's like when Nebraska kids go to the university, whether they're walk-on, or scholarship and they're playing," the former Nebraska fullback said. "The communities and the whole state of Nebraska get behind them. 

"I think that's a Nebraska thing and I think the state and the fan base is excited to have one of their own come back and coach this football team."

Scott Frost is here. Named the 33rd head coach in Husker history Saturday, the blond kid from Wood River has come full circle in a meteoric rise as a football coach.

He'll wear red Sunday, and stand before the cameras, the focal point of his home state once again 20 years after he originally cemented his legend.

He'll be where many of his old teammates think he should be.

"I'm in the camp of, I love an alumni coming back and a former player coming back and coaching," said Makovicka, who now lives in Omaha and has eight physical therapy clinics in the eastern part of the state. "It's great for Nebraska. And it's the right choice, because this is a time Nebraska fans need to be energized, and this energizes them."

The project is a big one. It will take a special kind of leader. Those who played with Frost think he can fit that profile.

It started when Frost put in the work as a player between the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

"The biggest thing I remember is how much he changed for the betterment of himself and the team, and how much better he got. That let me know everything I needed to know about him," said Jay Foreman, who was a junior linebacker on Nebraska's 1997 national championship team. "And that’s where his leadership came from. He said, 'I’m going to show you guys what I’m going to be expecting you to do,' and then he went out and did it.

"That right there is coaching."

It's no surprise, Foreman added, that Frost went into coaching. It was a natural fit. He came from a coaching family. He had the demeanor. He had the acumen. He had something that current Husker fans might crave more than anything else, considering the current state of affairs. He had toughness.

"And he knows how to inspire people, obviously. So I'm not surprised at all by anything he's done," Foreman said. "Everything that you need to be a coach, he already had it in him. It just came out over time. So he's doing something that he was meant to do."

Frost seemed destined to come back, one way or another, at some point in his career. And as Nebraska stumbled out of the gate this season, AD Shawn Eichorst was fired and the team eventually crumbled, the talk among Makovicka and his former teammates steadily turned toward what would happen next.

"The timing couldn't have been better, too, because Scott had a great season. And it's one of those things where you can justify it," Makovicka said. "Sometimes when people just clamor for an alumni or a guy that played here before, they don't have the résumé. But Scott's proven he has the résumé, and hopefully it works out for him."

Frost's reputation, Makovicka said, likely will buy him more time than perhaps a candidate without Nebraska ties would get. And it will surely take time. 

"He's not going to come in here and all of a sudden we're in the playoff next year," Makovicka said. "There's going to be some growing pains, and everybody needs to stay positive and understand that it's going to take some time to build a foundation."

Positivity shouldn't be an issue. The foundation could take more time. But those who built the foundation all those years ago are ready to see their quarterback do it again.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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