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NU-CU 1992

Nebraska's Travis Hill (93) picks up a fumble after stripping the ball from Colorado quarterback Koy Detmer (right) during the 1992 game at Memorial Stadium. Hill's fumble recovery set up Calvin Jones' 1-yard touchdown run with one second left in the first half of NU's 52-7 win.

David White was still wrapping his head around the sad news Thursday night.

He talked to Travis Hill just recently and visited him at Thanksgiving.

Hill, a first-team All-American outside linebacker at Nebraska in 1992, died Wednesday night in suburban Houston. He was 48.

"Travis loved to hang around with his friends, loved to have a good time, loved his family -- and loved to rush the quarterback," said White, a New Orleans native who was Hill's roommate when they were veteran standouts at Nebraska.

During the 1991 season, Hill started every game at left outside linebacker while White started every game at right OLB.

In 1992, White moved to inside linebacker while Hill delivered an excellent season as a pass rusher off the edge. He led Nebraska with 82 tackles, including six sacks, while causing a team-high four fumbles for a squad that finished 9-3 overall and 6-1 in the Big Eight, good for first place.

He had 13 tackles in a loss to then-No. 2 Washington. Later that season, as quarterback Tommie Frazier made his first career start at Missouri, Hill derailed the Tigers' hopes by forcing a fumble late in the game that was recovered by Husker standout lineman John Parrella.

In addition, Hill was named outstanding defensive player of the game in Nebraska's 38-24 win in Tokyo to cap the regular season.

"Travis was always smiling, always laughing," said former Nebraska teammate Kenny Wilhite, who started every game at left cornerback in 1992. "He was a soft-spoken kid in a lot of ways, happy-go-lucky, but on Saturdays he would turn it on."

A graduate of Pearland High School near Houston, Hill ranks 23rd on Nebraska's all-time tackles chart with 221 stops. He finished his Husker career with 16½ sacks and was a seventh-round pick of the Cleveland Browns. He played 21 games in the NFL.

White and Hill connected over Thanksgiving in suburban Houston where White's parents live.

"He told me that he had had a heart attack a couple years ago," White said. "He was on a pretty strict diet and, you know, getting his health back. He had his own insurance brokerage firm. He was really doing well.

"I just called Travis last month, checking on him. So, this news is really tough. I called (former Nebraska assistant coach) Tony Samuel to let him know. I called (ex-Husker great) Trev Alberts, and he broke down. I did a little bit, too. We're all just stunned."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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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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