Former teammates showcase
| nyone who wondered if Nebraska I-back DeAngelo Evans could play at the
Division I level got the answer Saturday at KSU Stadium.|
Without a doubt, yes.
But Evans, a true freshman from Wichita Collegiate, never imagined the reception of boos he received from Wildcat fans each time his name was announced over the public-address system.
"I thought they would be a little bit warmer here because of my good career in high school," Evans said. "But it was motivational for me. It made me run harder."
"DeAngelo played very well," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "He showed maturity and a lot of durability for a true freshman. We thought if he got into this situation, he would be able to respond the way that he did."
But Evans wasn't the only Wichita Collegiate native that showed some bright spots Saturday.
True freshman place-kicker Jamie Rheem provided the one spark of light for the Wildcat offense.
After Clyde Johnson intercepted an errant Scott Frost pass and a personal-foul penalty against Nebraska, the Cats found themselves at the Huskers' 31.
The Wildcats were unable to convert for the first down after a three-play drive for minus 2 yards. Rheem came out to attempt a 51-yard field goal, a career-long.
"I felt good before the kick," Rheem said. "I wasn't nervous at all. I was just relaxed."
With a slight wind at his back, Rheem connected on the kick to cut the Huskers' lead to 6-3 in the second quarter.
"I just kicked through it like it was an extra point. It felt pretty good off my foot," Rheem said.
Rheem said he wasn't surprised with the performance of his ex-teammate.
"I knew DeAngelo was capable of doing that. I wasn't surprised at all," he said. "I know he is capable of playing at this level. I was a little bit surprised with all of the boos from the crowd."
But there was one fan who wasn't booing for Evans. He was cheering for both Evans and Rheem.
Collegiate coach Mike Gehrer was at the game to watch two of his former players' teams hook up against each other.
But Gehrer said he understands why the fans were booing.
"DeAngelo showed he is a great back. The fans know that they lost out on a great Kansas back," he said.
Gehrer said Evans and Rheem had both talked to each other last week.
"DeAngelo called and talked to Jamie. There was some friendly taunting going on," Gehrer said. "DeAngelo said he was going to return a kick back all the way that Jamie kicked."
But the question is "Who did Gehrer root for?"
"I rooted for them both," Gehrer said. "It wasn't really hard. It is exhilarating to get to watch your kids play at that level and do great things.
"The expectations for DeAngelo have been high, but I think Jamie has really surprised some people. He's gotten stronger and stepped in to do the job."
While Rheem might not have felt too well about the loss, Evans said he could soar to new heights.
"I feel like a thousand-pound weight has been lifted off my back," Evans said. "I feel so good. I feel like I could fly back home to Wichita."