MINNEAPOLIS — It was only going to be a matter of time, but JD Spielman got the work out of the way quickly Saturday.
With six catches for 84 yards in the first half, Spielman became Nebraska's freshman record-holder for receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose yards.
He finished Saturday as the lone bright spot in a monumental Nebraska debacle: nine catches for 141 yards.
Spielman didn't speak to reporters after the game, so it was impossible to gauge his emotions after playing so well in such a disappointing defeat in near his Eden Prairie hometown. But Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said the redshirt freshman approached Saturday's game the same way he's approached Nebraska's other nine contests.
"I really think he's kind of the same every time. He's consistent in preparation," Langsdorf said. "It probably did (mean more to him), he probably had more family and friends around, but that guy shows up every game. And it doesn't look any different wherever he plays."
Spielman increased his season totals to 49 catches for 734 yards, taking over the team lead from Stanley Morgan in both categories. Those numbers also set freshman records, breaking the previous marks of 45 receptions for 641 yards by Nate Swift in 2005.
"You can trust that he's going to read a coverage or break the correct way, or if he's got an option to do something it's going to be right," Langsdorf said. "He's been a great target. A lot of fun to motion and move around and get the ball to in different ways."
Throw in 150 yards on kickoff returns, and Spielman's all-purpose yardage total now stands at 1,445. That number easily outpaces the previous freshman mark set by a guy named Ahman Green in 1995.
Finally, his 291 all-purpose yards Saturday are the fifth-highest total in school history and second-best by a freshman, trailing only Calvin Jones' 298 against Kansas in 1991.
Tremendous numbers, certainly, in a season that has been largely devoid of tremendously positive performances. A leader by example despite his age and time in the program.
"I don't think he's a real vocal guy. He just works hard, and the guys see that," Langsdorf said. "I wouldn't say he's going to give any speeches, but I think they respect him and see the work he does in the weight room, on the field, in practice, in meetings. Then how he produces in games, he earns that respect through those things."
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