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Nebraska vs. Purdue, 10.31.15

Nebraska wide receiver Lane Hovey (13) runs in a touchdown pass past Purdue cornerback Frankie Williams (24) and safety Brandon Roberts (1) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Saying his decision wasn’t easy, wide receiver Lane Hovey announced Wednesday he’s leaving the Nebraska football team and will play his senior season at FCS school Montana.

Because he’s dropping a division, Hovey can play immediately.

“I love my teammates and don't want to leave them. I have had a great experience working with Coach (Mike) Riley and his staff,” Hovey wrote in a message he released on Twitter. “I think there are big things ahead for Nebraska football this upcoming year. However, I had to look at my individual situation and decide what is best for me as a student and especially as a football player in my final year of eligibility.”

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hovey, from Adel, Iowa, joined Nebraska as a walk-on. He caught 12 passes for 158 yards last season and five passes for 69 yards in 2014.

At Montana, he joins a pass-oriented offense that averaged 42 passing attempts last season. Montana also loses its top two receivers, who caught 75 and 66 passes last season.

Montana is coached by Tecumseh native Bob Stitt, a former Doane College player and assistant coach who’s beginning his second season with the Grizzlies.

“Hate to lose Lane. Wonderful, great young man, a really good football player, and is making a decision for him to find more opportunity to play,” Riley said at his news conference Wednesday. “He can play for us and get into games, but maybe looking for a little more opportunity to play, and I get that totally.

“We wish him the best, because he’s a great, great young man and he’ll always be a Nebraska football alum. He’ll have a connection with us.”

* KEELS TO EASTERN MICHIGAN: Riley also announced that defensive end Joe Keels will play his final season at Eastern Michigan. The 6-3, 265-pound Keels, who joined the Huskers from junior college, will graduate this spring, meaning he can play immediately at Eastern Michigan.

Keels played in five games in 2014 and he was credited with one unassisted tackle.

Other Huskers who’ve transferred are defensive back Trai Mosley, who will play at Central Arkansas, and linebacker Adrienne Talan, who Riley believes will play in junior college. Both were freshmen last season.

* REED OUT: Riley said sophomore safety Antonio Reed will miss spring practice after undergoing a procedure on his knee.

“He had a knee that was scoped … and the repair is going to take longer to heal than a regular meniscus does if it’s just snipped a little bit,” Riley said.

Defensive end Mick Stoltenberg, who suffered a knee injury against Iowa in the final regular-season game, also will miss spring ball.

“He’ll be ready for the fall. He’ll work extremely hard,” Riley said. “We need him to get back at it.”

Riley also doesn’t expect receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El to participate in spring practice, but said the junior will be full-speed come fall. Pierson-El suffered a broken leg in an Oct. 31 loss at Purdue.

Riley said linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey will be OK to participate in spring practices.

* ETC.: Riley said Wednesday is only the fifth day in last 25 that he’s spent in Lincoln. “It’s great to be back,” he said after a busy month on the recruiting trail. … As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 24,000 tickets had been sold for the April 16 Spring Game.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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