Mohammed Seisay arrived in Lincoln last spring full on expectations but little on time.
With just two years to make it happen as a Husker, the junior college transfer jumped right in.
The cornerback got a headstart by participating in spring ball and was receiving praise from both coaches and peers alike.
Size? Yep. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Seisay more than looked the part.
Put the two together and you had a candidate for one of the starting cornerback jobs.
Then things turned in fall camp. A high-ankle sprain took more than Seisay’s health.
He says it took his swagger, too.
“It was my first injury I ever had in my college career,” Seisay said. “I didn’t even know how to handle it.”
He missed the first two games but pushed himself to get back onto the field.
Maybe he pushed too fast.
“I kind of forced myself to go on the field because of competition,” Seisay said. “I felt like I was hurting the team by not being out there. But then again, I did hurt the team by being out there and not being 100 percent. It was lingering and I was just being a bonehead and not listening to the trainers, and trying to force my way onto the field when I wasn’t ready.”
In the process, Seisay fell into the background at a position with plenty of depth.
He made appearances here and there, but never found his way to the top of the depth chart.
Now, with one year left, the competition at corner remains just as deep, if not steeper.
There are players with returning starting experience, such as Ciante Evans, Josh Mitchell, Andrew Green (out for the spring with a shoulder injury) and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. There’s also Daniel Davie and Jonathan Rose, the transfer from Auburn who impressed on the scout team last year.
“It’s intense,” Seisay said. “You've got to know in the back of your head that you make one mistake, the coach is going to remember that. So you kind of have to be perfect out there and play full-speed. It’s competition everywhere — in the meeting rooms, on the field. It’s everywhere.”
Seisay is embracing it.
His ankle has healed. And he thinks his mind is in the right place after getting a chance to step away and analyze his first season at Nebraska.
“I looked myself in the mirror. I just take a deep breath and take it one day at a time,” Seisay said. “That’s how I’m going to look at it this season. I’m not worrying about the future or whatnot.”
Those who have coached Seisay will tell you the cornerback has a high ceiling.
He was regarded as one of the most important recruiting victories of Nebraska's 2012 class, a four-star prospect from Eastern Arizona College who chose the Huskers over schools such as Oklahoma and Florida State.
During Seisay's recruitment, his juco coach John O’Mera told Nebraska’s coaching staff that the cornerback was farther along coming out of junior college than former Huskers Zack Bowman and Armando Murillo.
But there’s another comment O’Mera made last year about Seisay that sticks out even more now.
"A lot of guys might think ‘cause Nebraska signed him, that means you're automatically going to start. Not with him,” O’Mera said at the time. “He knows he has to earn it. And if he doesn't start right away, he's not going to be one of those guys who pouts. He'll just work harder."
That’s the task now — put the head down and work harder.
Seisay isn’t going to spend much time looking back at last season.
New year, new opportunity. The last opportunity at Nebraska. What can he do with it?
“I’m just ready and excited that I’m healthy. I’m good,” he said. “I’m learning the playbook more and more. I’m ready for this season.”