Nebraska added a recruit in a unique situation on Friday evening.
Northern Iowa graduate transfer linebacker Chris Kolarevic verbally committed to the Huskers after first entering the NCAA's transfer portal about 10 days ago.
"I heard from quite a few coaches, but Nebraska was actually my first official scholarship offer, the next morning after I went in the portal," Kolarevic told the Journal Star on Friday evening. "I was super excited about that and I felt like it was the right fit, so I ended up committing about a week after that."
Kolarevic was listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds at UNI and figured to be a central part of the Panthers' defense before most of the Football Championship Subdivision level was shut down.
"I was really ready to go, I was excited and my body felt great. I was ready to go mentally and physically, I was excited to play a season and they ended up canceling it," Kolarevic said. "I was just looking at my academics and I saw that I had the ability to graduate in December and I could play two years somewhere else if I wanted to.
"I decided that's what was best for me because I can go play against a high level of competition and get a master's degree at a different institution. It's been rough not playing football. It sucks and I miss it a lot, but I'm excited to get to Lincoln."
Kolarevic announced his commitment via Twitter and added that he intends to graduate from UNI in December and then be immediately eligible. Given the eligibility freeze instituted by the NCAA this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kolarevic should have two years remaining beginning in 2021.
The Traverse City, Michigan, native started six games in 2018 and recorded 65 tackles (three for loss) and a sack before a right foot injury ended his season. In fact, it kept him out nearly a calendar year before he was finally able to return to action about a month into the 2019 season.
In 10 games the rest of the way, he recorded 79 tackles (6.5 for loss), a pair of sacks and an interception for UNI.
"It was tough coming back from the injury because I didn't get to do a lot of the offseason stuff, so I missed a lot of that," Kolarevic said. "It took me a game or two to get into shape — you can only bike so much, football shape is a little different — so it just took me a couple of games to get into shape, but UNI's coaches, I love those guys and I think I played pretty well."
Nebraska and Northern Iowa have significant connections. Several of the Husker coaches, including defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, have been on staff at UNI during the course of their careers. Not only that, but junior NU tight end Travis Vokolek's father, D.J., is the linebackers coach at UNI and was Kolarevic's position coach.
"It's wild, I know Coach Chinander coached (at UNI) for a while and (head coach Scott) Frost was there only for a year or two," Kolarevic said. "It was kind of funny, we were talking about campus and stuff and just hearing about their experiences at UNI, too."
Kolarevic said he also talked with Frost and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud before pulling the trigger and committing.
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