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Did the east sideline look a bit crowded before the start of Saturday's Red-White Spring Game?

Of course, those in attendance likely knew why.

More than 40 recruits for future classes were there, as were signees from Nebraska's 2017 class, including cornerback Elijah Blades, tight end Austin Allen, defensive tackle Damion Daniels and running back Jaylin Bradley.

Add in some Nebraska basketball recruits, parents of recruits, and you can imagine the presence on the field during pregame at Memorial Stadium.

At one point, the large mass stretched about 70 yards along the east sideline.

Wideout Joshua Moore (IMG Academy in Florida), wideout Mario Goodrich (Lee's Summit, Missouri), athlete Talanoa Hufanga (Corvallis, Oregon) and defensive end Draco Bynum (Wilsonville, Oregon) were among the prospects taking in the scene.

Defensive tackle Masry Mapieu (York), offensive lineman Will Farniok (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and tight end Cameron Jurgens (Beatrice) have committed to NU's 2018 class, and were at Memorial Stadium.

Then there was the star among stars. Cornerback Brendan "Bookie" Radley-Hiles, donning a white throwback Nebraska baseball jersey, made his way to the field about 20 minutes before kickoff.

Incoming NU offensive lineman Matt Sichterman was among the first ones to greet him on the sideline. Then "Bookie" was taking pictures with Blades, his future teammate in the secondary.

Aguir Agau, who played at Creighton Prep before moving to California, and Tyler Maye, of North Carolina, are Nebraska basketball targets and were on the field before the game.

Special pregame moments

Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien hadn't fired any throws, yet the energy level was high prior to Saturday's kickoff.

For starters, there was the national anthem, and the scene of this country's colors covering the entire field.

How many volunteers does it take to hold an American flag that stretches 100 yards long? The answer is 180, according to Chris Anderson, Nebraska's associate athletic director for community, governmental and charitable relations.

Then there was Staff Sgt. Matthew Hawke, who had been serving in Afghanistan with the G Company 2-104th GSAB and "Task Force Nightmare."

Hawke's wife Nicole and their six children were on the field for the pregame coin toss, and Hawke's son Austin had the honors of the flipping the coin.

Little did Austin know that his dad was standing just feet away from him dressed in a white Nebraska uniform and helmet. 

Hawke removed his helmet, and the biggest smile in the stadium at the moment appeared on Austin's face, and then tears. Nicole couldn't believe it, either.

"He's in the middle of a really exciting event and we just get to be a part of it," NU coach Mike Riley told the team prior to taking the field. "We're thankful for that, Matthew."

Hawke, from Lincoln, was home.


* The announced attendance was 78,312, which would have filled Memorial Stadium 20 years ago. It's the second-largest spring game crowd, and it marks the sixth spring game crowd of 70,000-plus.

* If Nebraska fans like their defensive tackles very large, then they're going to love Daniels, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 315 pounds, give or take. Daniels is part of the 2017 class. Alvin Avery, Daniels' teammate at Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas, also was in attendance. Avery, a four-star recruit, is just as big.

* Gerald Foltz, the father of the late Sam Foltz, was on the sideline before the game. Josh Banderas and Tommy Armstrong also were there.

* Ticket scalpers. For a spring game.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or On Twitter @LJSSportsCG.


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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