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Swift catches Rodgers

Lane Hickenbottom/For The Independent
Husker teammates celebrate after Nate Swift's third-quarter touchdown reception gave him the all-time Nebraska receiving record previously held by Johnny Rodgers.
The Grand Island Independent
Posted Oct 25, 2008 @ 09:09 PM


 Holy moly. When Nate Swift breaks a record, he does it with style.

Needing seven catches to tie Husker legend Johnny Rodgers' Nebraska reception record, the senior from Hutchinson, Min., looked a the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner and went right past him during NU's 32-20 come-from-behind win over Baylor Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"It's a great honor to be named up there with those guys," Swift said. "To be put on an all-time list at Nebraska is a great feeling and a great honor."

Swift was the big reason for the Huskers second half turnaround against the Bears, who had a 20-17 halftime lead.

He tied Rodgers with a 15-yard reception on third-and-10 pass from Joe Ganz that kept alive Nebraska's 80-yard drive that gave the Huskers the lead for good in the third quarter. Later in the possession, he broke the record on a touchdown play in the left corner of the end zone that gave Nebraska a 24-20 lead.

And for that he owes Ganz some money.

"We didn't want him to break the record," Ganz said with a smile in the interview room with Swift looking on. "We wanted to keep ’the Jet' up there. I told him I'd need five bucks for every pass he caught today and one-hundred bucks for touchdowns."

Later, Swift gave NU needed cushion when he hauled in a 53-yard pass from Ganz that highlighted his 11-catch, 121 yard effort. Swift's 11 receptions tied him with Maurice Purify and Marlon Lucky for the third most in a game in school history.

Swift's second touchdown came on a "double move" set up by a barrage of Husker slant routes used to bait the Baylor corners. He faked the slant and went down the left sideline for the score.

"We'd been waiting to run that play all day," Swift said. "We needed to set up those corners and get them on the inside routes. It was just time to exploit them and go over the top.

"I would have called that play a lot earlier and coach Watson called it at a perfect time in the game."

Swift said the day was made more special because of his relationship with Ganz.

"We came in together," Swift said. "We were here on our recruiting visit together and became friends. He lived two floors above me in the dorms, but we've been together pretty much since we've been here."

Receivers coach Ted Gilmore said that Swift has been a great leader for a receiving corps that some perceived to be the weak link to the Nebraska team heading into the season and that he's taken on pursuing Rodgers record in a business-like fashion.

"He didn't wear it on his sleeve too much," Gilmore said. "Obviously, it's a very prestigious record held by a talented individual for a long period of time, and a lot of people brought it to his attention.

"But to his credit, he just went about his work and was focused in practice and didn't appear to be distracted by (the record)."

More than anything, Gilmore said that Swift's approach to other parts of his game have made this Nebraska team better.

"He's made big plays for us all year," Gilmore said. "Everybody talked about us losing five receivers this year, but our expectation was to not have any drop off and he's helped up with that.

"He's blocking so much better than he ever has, and I am much more proud of that than him catching the ball, He's always been able to do that. He's been challenged the last couple of years to be a more physical player on the perimeter."

With four regular season games still on the table, Swift now can dial his attention to chasing Rodgers receiving touchdowns and yardage marks. Rodgers had career numbers of 2,479 yards and 25 touchdowns. Following Saturday's effort, Swift has 2,142 yards and 18 touchdowns during his time in Lincoln.

But, the praise wouldn't stop after the game Saturday.

"He's just a good football player," first-year coach Bo Pelini said. "I get tired of people saying he's a possession guy, he's this, he's that. He's just a heck of a football player.

"He's a leader, he's a competitor, he's everything you'd want in a football palyer. To his credit, he became the all-time receptions leader and that's something to be proud of, something everybody's proud of."

And the final word from Gilmore, his position coach since 2005.

"I'd jump in a foxhole with Nate Swift any day.”

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