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Published Friday, November 24, 2000

Huskers: College years pass by quickly


Last modified at 5:51 a.m. on Friday, November 24, 2000
  

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  By Terry Douglass
The Independent

Emotions will be running on overload today for 27 senior members of the Nebraska football team.

The Cornhusker seniors will be playing their final home game in Memorial Stadium at Lincoln when they take on Colorado in an 11 a.m. contest. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.

For several Husker seniors, a day that once seemed so far away has crept up on them with amazing speed. Senior defensive tackle Loran Kaiser said it seems like only yesterday that he was a wide-eyed freshman preparing for his first season of college football.

"It flew right by," said Kaiser, a Farwell native and St. Paul graduate. "The older guys, they tell you when you come in as freshmen how fast it's going to go and you never really take it all in, but it flies right on by and you never know where it went."

Each senior enters his final home game with a favorite memory or two of their college football years. For Kaiser, it was the day he was first presented with his Blackshirt as a member of the No. 1 defensive unit by former defensive coordinator Charlie McBride.

While many other memories will most likely bubble to the surface for Kaiser and his teammates as they pull on the shoulder pads and make that final tunnel walk, Kaiser said he wants to use his final home game to add to his mental scrapbook.

"I think there's going to be a lot of meaning in it," Kaiser said. "A lot of people will be talking about all the emotion that will be in the stadium, but I think it's going to be great to get out there for the last time, take it all in and get the job done on the field."

Kaiser and his teammates want to add one last victory to the mantle when No. 9-ranked Nebraska (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) battles the Buffaloes (3-7, 3-4) on Tom Osborne Field. The Husker senior class has contributed to a 42-7 record over the past four seasons, winning two conference championships and a national title in 1997.

Although the bid by the senior class to win additional championships was foiled by losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State, Kaiser said a win over Colorado is very important to him. A victory would extend Nebraska's string of consecutive 9-win seasons to 32 years.

"We just want to come out and take care of business the way Nebraska always has and always should, especially since we're at home," Kaiser said. "A lot of people are talking about how they hope we don't fold and finish the season off bad, but usually that never happens around here and I don't see it happening now."

Nebraska coach Frank Solich said this year's senior class has been an outstanding one from the day it stepped on campus.

"Many of them have contributed over the course of their time here," Solich said. "Some have contributed in the later years of their career in terms of becoming starters. There are some that have not got to where they started at all or played in may ballgames, but all 27 have really contributed greatly to where this program is at and to what we've been able to accomplish this season."

Nebraska senior guard Russ Hochstein had an interesting way of describing his outgoing class.

"We're kind of like a bowl of jellybeans," Hochstein said. "You've got all of the different colored jellybeans just like you've got all the different personalities and all the different attitudes and things like that.

"We've always had kind of a tight-knit bunch. It's been a fun class to be a part of and hopefully we leave a little bit of a mark here."

Hochstein said his final home game in a Husker uniform will be highly emotional.

"It's going to be sad," Hochstein said. "I think if you talk to any of the seniors, we're all going to miss it very much. It seems like just yesterday we were coming into the program and getting ready for our first fall here and now, it's almost over.

"It's been a blink of an eye, it has gone so fast."

With all the emotion in the air, Solich said he hopes his team doesn't forget about the main objective.

"Sometimes you worry about the emotion that overtakes a player there, that if he's not careful, he gets caught up in so many things that he forgets to play the football game," Solich said. "I don't think that will be the case. I think this team will be ready to play and we'll want to do the best that we can to make sure that these seniors go off on a good note."

Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said he has no concerns about how the senior class will handle itself on senior day.

"They've done such a good job the past four or five years of being here that it wouldn't be a surprise for me to see them come out and have the greatest games of their careers," Crouch said.

Husker junior center Dominic Raiola said that he and the other younger players will do their best to send of the seniors out as winners.

"Those guys deserve so much more than we're going to get this year," Raiola said. "We're going to do our best to make sure we finish things off right for them."

Nebraska senior I-back Dan Alexander said he plans to approach his final game just as he has every game of his career.

"Our goal all year has been to get better every game," Alexander said. "This being the last game on our home field, we want to be the best we've been all year. There is an incentive to come out of this game looking the best we have all year long, especially as seniors, but I think the whole team feels that way, too.

"That's all the motivation we need."



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