Wistrom Motor one of Many in Husker History
Randy York’s N-Sider Huskers.com had an interesting interview with former Husker all-American and three-time national champion Grant Wistrom, who is being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this weekend. http://www.huskers.com//ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=204968650
Wistrom really personifies everything that the tradition of Nebraska football is all about. In football you hear a lot about players who are successful have a motor that never stops running. If you look back on those championship teams Wistrom played on in ’94, ’95 and ’97, you’d be hard pressed to find a guy on those teams that didn’t play with high energy.
That’s really what made the Blackshirt defense so good during that great run. That unit played every play of every game as if it was the last.
During the recent disappointing stretch of Nebraska football under Bill Callahan, there was rarely a guy on either side of the ball that sold himself out for the team.
Arguably the most notable exception was quarterback Zac Taylor, who probably has the least amount of athletic ability of any quarterback to ever play at Nebraska.
But especially during his senior year Taylor was the reason Nebraska was anywhere close to competitive.
I remember the Kansas State game in Lincoln during Taylor’s last season, at one point Taylor took a wicked shot behind the line of scrimmage. He laid nearly motionless on the ground, and come to find out later he was knocked out cold on the play but coaches had a hard time pulling him from the game — the guy refused to go down.
Speaking of motors, former Butkus Award winner Trev Alberts was another guy who wouldn’t take a play off.
During the 1993 Orange Bowl against Florida State Alberts was playing with was later described as a dislocated elbow. Yet Alberts left a mark on Nebraska football in that one game — he too personified what Nebraska football was all about — and single-handedly disrupted Charlie Ward and the Seminole offense that night.
Another legendary Husker motor was linebacker Mike Knox, who was an all-Big Eight player in 1983 and battled injuries throughout his career. However, the story goes that Knox was a hard guy to control in practice and spent a lot of time in equipment checkout replacing busted helmets on many occasions.
Outside linebacker Demorrio Williams was another guy who always had the Husker faithful on their feet, watching and waiting for that next sack. Williams was first-team all-Big 12 in 2003 and one of the main reasons the Bo Pelini-led defense was one of the best in the country that season.
Williams put up gaudy numbers in that 2003 campaign, including 21 tackles for a total of 92 yards in losses, 11 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, and 128 total tackles. Williams was so fun to watch because Pelini moved him around on defense, making it difficult for opposing offenses to pick him out among the crowd every single down.
Having a motor is not something that can be taught, it comes from within. The reason Nebraska’s defense has turned around under the now Head Coach Pelini, is because players are at least playing with passion.
That fire was nowhere to be found in what we can now call the “dark years” of Husker football.
Hard to believe it was only three years ago.