Dion Booker never figured that what he learned playing safety at Nebraska would carry over to his current career.
Booker, who played for the Huskers from 1998 to 2001, is an Army first lieutenant, serving in Fort Riley, Kan.
"It's thinking on your feet," Booker said. "We've got a lot of missions we've got to run and train our guys to fight in wars. It's so physically grueling sometimes.
"But you've got to learn to react and make good decisions, and for myself, I've got to learn how to lead men into battle. It's like being on the football field. Being a safety, you've got to know everybody's position and what they're doing, and lead them into battle."
Booker returned to Memorial Stadium on Saturday as part of Nebraska's Veterans Day salute. He was among 11 honorary gate sentinels -- the men and women who each week guard the gates to Nebraska's entryway onto the field.
After leaving Nebraska, Booker played football in Canada, and also some arena football. He joined the Army in 2008.
"It's been something that I've always wanted to kind of do," said Booker, whose father was in the Marine Corps for 20 years. "It's always been inside me to be in the military."
His father is retired, and his older brother, Michael, who also starred at Nebraska, is running a screen-printing business in North Carolina.
Dion Booker attended Nebraska's Spring Game in April and said he's been following the Huskers more often since he's joined the Army.
"It seems like there's a lot of rivalries in the military with teams and stuff," he said, noting his friendship with a Texas fan.
Sure, Texas won this year. Booker reminds his friend of Nebraska's 1999 Big 12 Championship Game victory against Texas. He played on that Husker team.
"It's crazy. It's been 10 years ago since I was running around out here. Time just flies by," Booker said.
"I do miss football. More than anything, I miss the crowd. The Nebraska fans, they're just wonderful. I do miss the competition and how I got treated at Nebraska."
Thank you, Dion, and to all of the men and women who serve our country.
- Are officials so disinterested they can't even signal a touchdown these days? Nobody in the press box saw arms go in the air on Roy Helu's second-quarter TD. Surprise, there was confusion. Spare us, refs. Sports writers can be confused enough as it is.
- Well, at least Big 12 refs know how to call defensive holding.
- Very nice, classy tribute to Turner Gill before the game.
- Who married the cinnamon roll to chili? Not sure what the history is, but job well done.
Reach Brian Rosenthal at email@example.com or 402-473-7436.