Seung Hoon Choi looked up at the clock, doing some quick math.
The clock read 1:47. Add 14 hours to it. It was 3:47 A.M. back in South Korea, he said.
Even so, Choi felt a wake-up call to his parents might be in order.
“I think they’ll like it.”
Yes, this would be one joyous phone call, with the senior left guard telling his parents he was one of five Husker walk-ons who received a scholarship Saturday afternoon.
The others are right guard Spencer Long, punter/kicker Brett Maher, center Justin Jackson and defensive back Justin Blatchford.
Long and Maher had known this scholarship was coming since the summer, but the other three found out during an on-field announcement after Saturday’s scrimmage.
It was quiet after the first two names were announced, explained Jeff Jamrog, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for football.
But then Jamrog, who walked on to Nebraska himself in the mid-1980s, started clapping, yelling out congratulations.
Soon everyone else was doing the same.
“It’s just a great feeling to walk on here from South Korea to America, from walk-on to getting a scholarship,” said Choi, the leading candidate to start at left guard. “It’s just so much of a blessing.”
Jackson was emotional a couple of minutes after finding out, some mist in his eyes as he met the media.
“I get choked up talking about it,” said the Norris grad who has played on both sides of the ball during his career.
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“Been a long time. A lot of work. Coach Bo takes care of us. It’s a great feeling.”
Jackson said “you’re always hoping” for a scholarship.
“But we got a lot of guys on our team that bust their ass on our team and work really hard. A lot of deserving people out there. To hear my name as one of them, it’s a dream come true. Coming here is the first step in it, and to be a scholarship player and to keep working to be a starter are the stepping stones that, at times, you never imagine is going to happen.”
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he’s proud of all the guys who received scholarships, praising their hard work and commitment.
In Pelini’s five seasons, he has now put 18 walk-ons on scholarship in his five seasons (two in 2008, six in 2009, one in 2010, four in 2011 and five this year).
It’s always a tough decision, he said, deciding which players to reward.
“It’s hard for me. I feel really good for the guys that I’m able to reward, but there are a lot of deserving guys,” Pelini said. “But unfortunately you can’t give them all one.”
Choi’s journey is as remarkable as any. Having arrived to Lincoln for high school, he didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year at Lincoln Christian.
From figuring out the basics of a strange game to a football scholarship at Nebraska.
“A lot of memories,” Choi said of the road here. “I started learning how to block, how to run. … Just being a part of this great program. … Without the coaches, without my teammates, I wouldn’t be here where I am now.”
And with that, it was time for a phone call.
Some news simply shouldn’t wait.