The eyes were not deceived. There were men in black shirts walking off Nebraska's practice field Wednesday evening.
Yeah, those Blackshirts.
For the first time in Bo Pelini's tenure as head coach, the famed Husker practice jerseys appeared before the season opener.
Only seven players have them for now. Jason Ankrah, Thad Randle, David Santos, Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Josh Mitchell and Corey Cooper.
Four seniors. Two juniors. One sophomore.
Four defensive backs. Two defensive linemen. One linebacker.
"If part of being a Blackshirt is being defined by your work ethic, and your attention to detail and the leadership you bring to the team, the guys we awarded them to certainly are all those things," said defensive coordinator John Papuchis.
Pelini, who will talk with the media after Thursday's practice, tweeted: "Proud of 7 guys on defense earning blackshirts today. They epitomize what the tradition means."
Papuchis said other Blackshirts could be up for grabs throughout the season, depending on who earns them.
Secondary coach Terry Joseph, whose position group has the most shirts, said it should only serve as greater motivation for those who didn't receive one.
"If you didn't get one today, play your tail off this week and you might get one Monday," Joseph said. "It's not that they did anything wrong. It's just that they have to continue working and get stripes on the wall. The guys understand that. No one was pouting about it. And the guys who got them, deservingly so."