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KEARNEY — "Nebraska Nice" is a sentiment often used to describe the state's residents' hospitality. Maybe it's time to add another saying: "Nebraska Loyalty."
That latter phrase shined as Nebraska quarterback recruit Heinrich Haarberg officially signed his letter of intent in front of classmates and family Wednesday at Kearney Catholic High School.
It hasn’t exactly been easy being a Nebraska football fan, with the loss Saturday against Minnesota dropping the Huskers' record to 2-5 this season and 11-20 since Scott Frost took over as head coach.
Check back here throughout the day for updates, including signings, photos, comments from Nebraska coach Scott Frost and maybe a surprise or two.
If you haven't noticed, Nebraska's starting quarterbacks draw about as much scrutiny as the governor. The job's not for everyone.
Nebraska's play this season has never affected Haarberg’s loyalty to Frost and the program.
“When most of us committed, it was to a Nebraska team that, you know, hadn’t done well in the past couple years,” Haarberg said. “It’s more than just a record and hopefully some people can see past that, and it’s hard when you don’t get those kind of conversations.”
Haarberg will be the second Kearney Catholic signal-caller when he joins NU's quarterback back room next year (Matt Masker). Masker and fellow walk-on lineman Eli Richter helped convince Haarberg to join the Huskers.
“That’s something really cool is having guys who I know really well and that came from Kearney Catholic that I knew would have my back when I went there,” Haarberg said
Haarberg was always a prominent athlete — at 6-foot-5, it’s easy for him to stand out. However, a big part of his development as a quarterback was being able to sit back, observe and learn from Masker. That showed in Haarberg’s two years as the full-time starter at Kearney Catholic, when he threw for over 3,600 passing yards and 42 touchdowns. He led the Stars to a C-1 state semifinal appearance this past fall.
“He was able to watch the things Matt did, how Matt practiced, how Matt devoted time to learning the game and reading defenses and understanding coverages,” Kearney Catholic coach Rashawn Harvey said. “… So he was able to see that from someone he personally knew and now he can take that and move on to the next level.”
Haarberg is hopeful he can make his mark quickly.
“I know that the quarterback room is a really talented one and I’m going to go in there and compete,” Haarberg said. “I respect them (Nebraska quarterbacks) and what they do, but that doesn’t take away from anything that I’m going to do and compete for.”