CHICAGO -- Nebraska hasn't exactly had a slew of football players from Chicago over the years.
Maybe that's because it's a basketball-oriented city.
So says Husker senior safety Corey Cooper, of nearby Maywood, Ill.
"We've had so many NBA players," he said. "My high school alone (Proviso East) has had so many NBA players."
Doc Rivers, Michael Finley and Shannon Brown are graduates of Proviso East, as is former Kansas State great Jacob Pullen.
"Football is all right (in Chicago), but basketball is the No. 1 sport," Cooper said. "That's fact."
Nebraska has some excellent basketball players on its roster. A good starting five, in Cooper's opinion: Ameer Abdullah, LeRoy Alexander, Randy Gregory, Greg McMullen and Alonzo Moore.
Tuesday was roundtable day, where each coach and player sits at his own table. Reporters come up and talk to them about truly anything for two hours.
Only a few players each year have the type of star power that draws a full table the entire time. Abdullah had a full table the entire time, with several national writers spending most of their time getting to know him. Abdullah delivered the goods, too, talking about everything from his family, to his thoughts as to why the NFL has devalued running backs, to admitting that he was one socially awkward dude all through high school.
Then Abdullah played cameraman at the end, taking a photographer's equipment over to Kenny Bell's table as he quizzed the wide receiver.
Aside from his own coach, Bo Pelini, Bell said his two favorite other coaches in the Big Ten are Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Penn State's James Franklin. After seeing Franklin up close, Bell can understand why Penn State is doing so well recruiting. "That dude could recruit me. If I were a senior in high school right now, no question."
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IF IN CHARGE
If it were Bell's call on alternate uniforms, he said he'd go crazy and put Nebraska in some throwbacks, like some of the 1940s outfits NFL teams occasionally wear.
"I'd put us in something so ridiculous and ugly," he said. "Yeah, that's what I'd do. That'd be funny. I’d put a Bugeaters on our helmet. That would be fun. But then people would freak out and be mad for no reason. But it’d be fun, would it not, if we came out in light purple and yellow socks? That would be fantastic."
Bell said he's also a fan of Nebraska wearing all white.
"A very clean look," he said.
Reminded that Nebraska has had some bad setbacks while wearing all white, including a 19-10 upset loss to Iowa State in 1992, Bell said: "I believe in karma, but superstitions and stuff like that, you got to be careful with that kind of stuff, brother. It’ll make you sad."
Despite his lofty status in the league, Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff sat alone at his table for periods of time. Leave it to a Nebraska reporter to approach and ask about Husker defensive end Randy Gregory, who has been known to trash-talk a bit.
Scherff apparently didn't trade words with Gregory in last season's game.
"I don't trash talk," he said flatly.
"He's not afraid of contact, let's put it that way. If you're in his way, you better get lower than him," said Scherff, referring to Iowa bulldozer running back Mark Weisman.