Rutgers Michigan St Football

Rutgers tight end Travis Vokolek catches a pass for a touchdown over Michigan State's Khari Willis during a 2018 contest in East Lansing, Michigan.

Travis Vokolek is finally going to play for Nebraska. 

The transfer tight end, who played his first two years at Rutgers, has been waiting for some time to be able to say that. 

"Right out of high school I was trying to play for Nebraska," Vokolek, who announced his commitment to the Huskers on Tuesday afternoon, told the Journal Star. "The old coaching staff recruited me a little bit but didn't offer me. Things didn't work out and I ended up at Rutgers. 

"But, you know, the time comes and here it is. It's awesome. I was born in Omaha, my grandparents live in Lincoln, my parents are from there. I was one of those Nebraska kids that grew up dreaming of playing for Nebraska and now the opportunity came and it's a dream come true." 

Vokolek's father, D.J., coached with defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco at Northern Iowa, played at Nebraska-Kearney and was at one time an assistant at both Nebraska-Omaha and Wayne State. 

As a 6-foot-6, 250-pound sophomore at Rugters, Vokolek came on strong as Rutgers’ 2018 season progressed, finishing with 16 catches for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers, but remember that Rutgers’ passing attack finished with just 1,586 yards and five touchdowns against 22 interceptions.

Vokolek will not graduate this summer, meaning he will have to sit the 2019 season pursuant to NCAA transfer rules unless he applies for and is granted a waiver. Without a waiver, he will sit one year and have two remaining to play. 

"Whatever the coaches want me to do, I'll do," he said. "I don't have a problem with redshirting and I don't have a problem with trying to play right away. I just want to try to help this team." 

He said he's trying to get into NU's first summer session, which started recently, but if he can't, he'll be on campus when the second one starts in July. 

While the addition on the surface seems to close out Nebraska's 2019 recruiting efforts -- he is the 30th member of the Huskers' class and NU has a hard cap at that number -- the potential still exists that the school could add one more. 

Vokolek never took an official visit to NU, meaning he could be considered an unrecruited player and categorized as a "blueshirt." Under that rule, a player shows up on campus before being put on scholarship. The Huskers could then award him a scholarship on the first day of class and count him forward to the 2020 class. He would still count against the 85-man maximum (NU has plenty of room) this fall, but not the cap of new scholarship players per year allowed by the NCAA. 

Vokolek put his name in the transfer portal in April after missing most of Rutgers’ spring ball with a hamstring injury, NJ.com reported then. He is originally from Springfield, Missouri, graduated from Kickapoo High and chose the Huskers over Iowa and Kansas State.

Nebraska has several other multiyear options at tight end in junior Jack Stoll, sophomores Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal, redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone and freshman Chris Hickman.

That group is seen as one with plenty of potential, though Sean Beckton's group compiled a modest 28 catches, 374 yards and three touchdowns in 2018. Of those totals, Stoll accounted for 21, 245 and all three scores. 

"The tight ends they've got there now are great players and I'm excited to meet those guys and to practice with them," Vokolek said. "And Adrian (Martinez) is a great quarterback. That's what really stood out watching film. You want to play with a great quarterback that can lead the team to success.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out there and working hard and learning the offense and starting to catch some balls." 

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

Load comments