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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin, college football, 10.6.18

Nebraska wide receiver JD Spielman (10) pulls in a one-handed catch for a first down in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin's Eric Burrell (25) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.

Big Ten defenses these days have their hands full with Nebraska sophomore receiver JD Spielman.

Remarkably, in the not-too-distant past, it was Husker coach Scott Frost that had some concerns about the prolific slot receiver.

“It’s funny with JD, through spring he was kind of hurt and through fall camp he was a little tentative, maybe wasn’t our best practice player through fall camp and I started to get a little concerned because I’d heard so many good things about JD,” Frost said. “About two weeks before the first game I think it clicked for him with our offense and he just completely changed and started being dominant for us on the practice field.”

Things have certainly changed in recent weeks. Spielman broke his own school record for single-game receiving yards with 209 in Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin and enters Saturday’s contest against Northwestern at or near the top of the Big Ten leaderboard in several categories.

Spielman paces the Big Ten at 92.2 receiving yards per game, checks in third at 6.4 catches per game and is third in touchdown receptions at five behind only Ohio State’s Paris Campbell (seven) and Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson (6).

In the past two games alone, Spielman has been targeted 26 times and caught 19 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Overall on the season, he's caught two-thirds of the 48 passes thrown his way — a couple on Saturday were low and he's been the target on four of NU's five interceptions this year, otherwise the rate would be even higher — and is averaging 9.6 yards per target. 

“Every time we call his number he seems to find a way to get it done,” Frost said.

Videos: Scott Frost and Husker players talk about progress, facing Northwestern

See videos of Husker coach Scott Frost and football players Monday speaking about the challenges ahead.

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

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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.

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