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With his sixth season on deck, JoJo Domann ready to embrace role he saw others manage in 2016
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With his sixth season on deck, JoJo Domann ready to embrace role he saw others manage in 2016

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NU football presser, 7.29

JoJo Domann speaks during a Nebraska football news conference Thursday, July 29, at Memorial Stadium.

Outside linebacker JoJo Domann speaks on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

Here's how long JoJo Domann has been around the Nebraska football program: as a freshman, he forced a fumble in the 2016 Music City Bowl against Tennessee.

Five years later, Domann is the only player on Nebraska's roster who saw the field in that game, which just happened to come at the end of the final year the Huskers won nine games in a season.

It wasn't exactly a sprint to the finish that year. NU started 7-0 and finished 9-4 with a 38-24 loss to Tennessee in Nashville.

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But nine wins is nine wins, and 9-4 would certainly seem to be appealing considering what has happened in the years since.

"Those men expected to win. Those dudes were confident, and they practiced like it, and we played like it," Domann said of the seniors on that team. "There was no what-ifs. They were expecting to win every game. And the senior leadership is huge, and just creating that momentum for the rest of the team to follow suit.

"So it’s a lot of responsibility, but this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, and I’m ready for it."

Domann is the senior now — a sixth-year senior, thanks to the extra year granted him because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He's gone from making an important play in a bowl game to trying to lead his final college team back to the postseason for the first time.

There have been coaching changes and player transfers, lost games and a pandemic.

And now, a final chance for the linebacker from Colorado to leave his mark.

"For me personally it’s was just the leadership aspect. Trying to get everyone on the same page, same mission. Really trying to build a football team and everything that entails," Domann said. "So I love each guy in the locker room, and I’m really excited for us to come together and hopefully get some wins this fall."

Domann doesn't want to compare the senior leadership on the 2021 Huskers to what he experienced as a freshman in 2016. Different situations, different teams, different everything.

That doesn't mean, though, he isn't curious to see what the next month and beyond reveal about a NU football culture that coaches and players both say is the best it's been since Scott Frost took over in 2018.

"We’re going to find out this fall," Domann said. "So really just leaning on my guys; being there and being accountable so they can lean on me. And honestly just praying for the best."

Life as a college football player now is certainly different than it was in 2016. Players have more freedom than ever. There are brands to manage thanks to name, image and likeness. 

Domann is no different. But asked what he considered to be his brand, he went back to something that won't necessarily put money in his pocket.

"Leading with authenticity and vulnerability and every day doing my best. That ultimately shows up in being there for the people in my life," Domann said. "Being there for my teammates and holding space for them, holding energy for them. And that’s what’s so exciting about this season for me, is I get to step up into this role I always imagined myself being in.

"But you can’t just assign me to be a leader. I want to earn that trust. I want to earn that respect, and that’s what this fall camp is for me."

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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