Things I know and think I know:

Matt Davison has a knack for pulling off the improbable.

He has struck again.

I'm not sure which is more impressive: His diving catch in 1997 at Missouri or the "OK" he managed to receive recently from Tom Osborne and Shawn Eichorst.

Davison's non-profit organization, "Creating Captains," will play host to a benefit event Feb. 15 on the indoor field at Hawks Championship Center — yes, where the Nebraska football team practices.

OK, so it's exactly not Farm Aid III at Memorial Stadium (1987). As far as I know, Willie Nelson won't be part of the scene, but still ...

There will be a band playing on a stage erected in front of one of the goal posts, with about 300 seats in front of the stage. There will be an elaborate buffet, cocktails, as well as live and silent auctions.

"I asked the biggest favor I could ever ask, and I got it," Davison said.

Osborne, the outgoing Nebraska athletic director, was still in charge in October when Davison broached his idea. I'm guessing Osborne's passion for helping youth helped lead to his eventual "yes."

"Creating Captains" began in 2008. Davison since has addressed more than 20,000 students in the state, grade school through high school, preaching the importance of higher education and healthy lifestyles as well as issues such as hazing and bullying.

"I think now these speeches that touch on the bullying issue are even more important as you see all these crazy shootings in schools," he said. "A lot of times, those were the kids who were bullied or made fun of."

Davison obviously was a superb athlete growing up in Tecumseh, a kid who probably didn't worry much about being teased or bullied.

"I've not been a saint in my life," the former Nebraska standout wide receiver (1997-2000) told me back in 2008.

"Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Was I a perfect kid? Nope. But one thing that always touched my heart was how kids treated other kids. I just always had a soft spot for kids who were maybe a little slow, who weren't good athletes, who maybe were a little overweight, kids that a lot of people made fun of.

"You know, I just hated that."

A tip of the cap to Davison for doing something about it. Also note that "Creating Captains" is in partnership with both the Food Bank for the Heartland's and the Lincoln Food Bank's BackPack Programs.

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"We've been able to put a pretty large dent in the child-hunger problem across Nebraska," Davison said.

Great to see any high-profile athlete giving back — it tends to inspire others.

For additional information about the Feb. 15 benefit event, or to purchase tickets, email info@creatingcaptains.org.

* Just what the Nebraska men's basketball team needed, an injury to its foremost leader. Without 6-foot-10 senior Brandon Ubel (12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds), you figured the Huskers had virtually no chance to defeat 22nd-ranked Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing, Mich.

You figured wrong. I definitely figured wrong. Tim Miles did an excellent job of coaching, although I'm guessing he'll quickly tire of his team putting forth excellent efforts but falling short, as was the case in Michigan State's 66-56 victory.

Nebraska (9-8, 0-4 Big Ten) is seriously lacking in depth. Its talent is so-so at best, as is its chemistry. Michigan State's size advantage was ridiculous. Even so, NU once again showed it is good enough to pull off an upset or two in the Big Ten.

Miles is squeezing just about everything he can out of this group. His positive energy, enthusiasm and confidence on the bench are contagious. He doesn't back down to the Big Ten bullies.

Hey, it's a start.

"I think fans will be patient all of this season and into next year," said Davison, an analyst for the Husker Sports Network. "If they see promise next year, then they're going to be very positive. If next year is still a 4-and-14-in-the-league type of season, then they might get a little anxious ..."

Bright side: There will be plenty of comfort food in the Haymarket district.

* He carried 52 times for 348 yards (6.7 per carry) this past season, and a lot of fans would have liked to have seen more of sophomore running back Braylon Heard.

Now, with verbal commitments from touted running backs Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor, Nebraska's backfield is about to overflow with talent.

Where does the speedy Heard fit in the big picture? Here's one idea: When the Huskers go with four receivers, I envision Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa, with Heard in a slot. Talk about explosiveness.

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck's system has room for plenty of variety. Beck is imaginative. Heard is versatile. And make no mistake, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini likes Heard's prowess on offense. They'll make it work.

* I fully understand the Colin Kaepernick hysteria. He made Green Bay defenders look silly as they tried to defend zone-read plays. I'm equally impressed by Joe Flacco's arm strength. Watching the Baltimore Ravens quarterback is like watching a pitcher throw a 100 mph fastball. Only a select number of people walking the Earth can do it.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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