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Joe Chrisman earns respect as backup quarterback
By BOB SCHALLER
For the Star-Herald
LINCOLN – After a knee injury left Joe Chrisman limping, he wondered what it would do to the college football career he had planned on for so long.
At Nebraska his first year, the walk-on was really a limp-on, struggling with the injury that never seemed to go away. He had surgery, and came back last year as a redshirt freshman to be the third-string quarterback as the Huskers redshirted highly-regarded recruit Jammal Lord.
The plan was for Lord to become the No. 2 quarterback this year. But something happened on the way to the depth chart…
Chrisman earned the respect of his teammates and coaches by the way he rehabbed for the injury, and the way he picked up the offense. He is currently listed as the co-No. 2 quarterback along with Lord. While Lord was impressive – with the exception of an interception he threw during Saturday’s win – Chrisman is still in the running.
And that he can run at all means a lot to the Colorado native, who played for Longmont High School.
“I always thought in the back of my mind that I could play here,” Chrisman said after doing just that Saturday. “Wyoming contacted me and so did Montana State. Air Force talked to me, but I didn’t want to be in the military. I had it down to Wyoming and Montana State, and then Nebraska called.”
But Nebraska called to offer a chance, no scholarship or anything. The Huskers are prone to switching high school quarterbacks and running backs to receivers or defensive backs. Still, Chrisman came to Lincoln.
“I wanted to play in the big time,” Chrisman said, “and this is it.”
He’s also developed a very good relationship with Eric Crouch. The two are very much alike: Quiet, hard-nosed players who earn respect with actions rather than words.
“I can’t think of anyone I respect more than I do Eric Crouch,” Chrisman said. “I’d like to be like him – not just because he’s the starter, but because of the leader and the kind of person he is.”
Crouch, who in the preseason took time on several occasions to talk up Chrisman and Lord said that he sees a lot of himself in Chrisman.
“He’s kind of quiet, like I was,” Crouch said. “He’s the kind of person who has just great character. And for all the great things about playing here, one of the greatest things is that you get to meet people who have great character, like Joe.”
Chrisman is only 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. Physically, he reminds one of a more muscular Matt Turman, who found himself third team behind Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer before getting sandwiched between Scott Frost and Frankie London the following two years. But Turman was never a real threat to be the starter, not as long as there was a recruited player on the roster who had Division I size and skills.
Solich dropped the first hint that Chrisman was the real deal at Big 12 Media Days in late July when someone asked about Crouch’s then-only backup, Lord. Solich replied, “You have to mention Joe Chrisman. He’ll figure into the mix too.”
He has, and more. Chrisman is a legitimate Division I athlete. His arm-strength and speed – he hits the corner on the option as fast as anyone, except perhaps Crouch – would make him a starting candidate at any Division I school if he were just two or three inches taller.
As it stands now, Chrisman enjoys competing every day for the No. 2 job. In fact, he just plain likes competing.
“I still deal with the pain – it’s not going to go away,” Chrisman said. “That time I was out (injured and rehabbing) was just so tough physically and emotionally. But I’d do it all over again. I turned down several scholarships to come here, because this is what I want to be a part of.”

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