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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 5, 1998)
By Shannon Heffelfinger
Fittingly, both Tom Osborne and
Frank Solich had a hand in molding
the Nebraska football team’s 1998
One newly retired and the other
newly hired, Osborne and Solich
combined efforts to ensure that a
smooth transition in the recruiting
ranks marked the end of Osborne’s
25-year reign and the beginning of
life for NU under Solich.
The result pleased Solich on
national letter-of-intent signing day.
Twenty high school seniors hail
ing from eight different states -
including nine from Nebraska —and
Canada signed with the Huskers
Wednesday, confirming both coach
es’ belief that most of NU’s recruits
would stick with the program
through the coaching change.
“1 think die recruits understood
that we are stitl the top team in the
country and we want to move for
ward and continue,” Solich said.
“For the most part, people stayed
with us. And these are good people
who wanted to be
Burton of the I ,
Adviser ranks I
NU’s class tenth I
Burton added ■
that die Osborne- HHMHBI
to-Solich coach- Solich
ing switch was the ^
smoothest transition he had ever
Solich said several factors -
including NUIt championships,
record and graduation rate — con
tributed to Nebraska^smooth tran
“All of those things detennine
whether or not you’re going to have a
good recruiting year,” Solich said,
“and we certainly have all those
things in place here.”
Overall, Solich said he felt very
pleased with the athletic ability and
speed of the 1998 class, which
includes 10 Prep All-Americans.
The Hhskers placed an emphasis
on speed when recruiting this year’s
class, Solich said.
“Yoti caa’t play for a conference
championship without speed,”
Solich said. “We have it throughout
this class. “But having speed is one
thing. Having speed combined with
athletic ability is another. And that’s
something we’ve done.”
The Huskers inked 12 defensive
players and eight offensive players,
many of whom Solich said could:
Please see RECRUITS on 10
LINCOLN SOUTHEAST tight end Jon Bowling breathes a sigh of relief
Wednesday after signing a letter of intent to play fsstfcall at Hokraska.
I The hometown
recruit says a new head
coach wasn’t a factor.
Decked out in a Nebraska hat
and red shirt, Southeast High
School senior Jon Bowling made it
Flanked by his parents, Charles
and Karen, 15-year-old brother,
Jordan, and Coach Chuck
Mizerski, Bowling finalized a
dream when he signed his national
letter of intent to become a
Comhusker Wednesday afternoon
at Lincoln Southeast High School
“Growing up in Lincoln, it is a
dream come true to play for
Nebraska,” Bowling said. “I have
watched them my whole life.”
The 6-foot~4 inch, 215-pound
tight end verbally committed to
Nebraska in the fall.
Bowling’s mother said attend
ing the University of Ndbraska
Lincoln has always been a high pri
ority for her son. She also is glad
she will be able to see him play at
home next year.
- ... “We consider it a blessing,”
& Karen Bowling said. “He’s been
giveff to opportunity that doesn’t
cotae to a lot of kids.”
Charles Bowling said his son
Bowling verbally committed to .
NU before Tom Osborne
announced his retirement in
Bowling said after he got over
the initial shock of that announce
ment and after the NU coaches
assured him the system would
remain the same, he stuck with the
Plus it didn’t hurt that Solich
once coached at Southeast.
“He won a couple high school
titles,” Bowling said. “Hopefully
he'll win a couple of collegiate
While Bowling is glad to have
Solich as a coach, Solich is also
happy to have Bowling.
“Jon, at t>-4, 215-pounds, is
very aggressive,” Solich said. “He
is really a player who has received
a lot of attention.”
Bowling, who also is a standout
basketball player, said it will be
tough not playing competitively
anymore, but he said it was a
choice he had to make.
He said he planned to finish die
basketball season and then start the
Husker conditioning program.
Linebacker becomes first Benson recruit since 1991
of it” //_
BY el AY SAUNDERS
OMAHA - The childhood dream of many
Nebraska kids is to play in Memorial Stadium as a
member of the Comhusker football team.
For Omaha Benson senior Randy Stella, the
dream has not been tainted even though there is a
new head coach.
Surrounded by family, teammates and Benson
Coach Lonnie Tapp, Stella signed his national let
ter of intent on Wednesday. The 6-foot-2,200
pound linebacker became the first Benson player
to receive a football scholarship at Nebraska since
Tony Veland in 1991.
“I thought it was the right college for me,”
Stella said. “It is something I have always wanted
to do. Now, lam going to try and take advantage
Stella, who runs a 4.62 second 40-yard-dash,
also considered offers from Iowa State and
As a senior last fall, Stella recorded 120 tack
les, four sacks and one interception. Offensively,
Stella served as a running back and rushed for 761
yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ranked 93rd on the National Recruiting
Advisor’s Top 100 list, Stella said the recent
coaching change from Tom Osborne to Frank
Solich had no bearing on which college he was
going to attend
“My decision had never changed,” Stella said.
“The only difference (between Osborne and
Solich) is that (Solich) will have more emotion on
His mother, Annette, also said she, along with
many friends of the family, was happy to see Stella
It is something I have
always wanted to do. Now, I
am going to try and take
advantage of it.”
Pi Randy Stella i 1 JtM
make his decision official.
“We always knew he would go to Nebraska,”
Annette Stella said. “We have a lot of family and
menas who nave ioiiowea nun nom midget root
ball until now.” ,A f ? v> -■ j
• there wasn't
By Sam McKewon
OMAHA - Jeremy Slechta did
; n’t. treat his signing with Nebraska
ft just signaled cl,osure in what
has been a long recruiting process.
“I knew that! was going to go to
Nebraska for long time now,”
Slechta said. “I’m glad this made it
Slechta, a defensive tackle out of
Papillion La-Vista High School,
signed his letter of intent Wednesday
morning among family and friends.
Though there was never really
any doubt where he would sign,
Slechta said, he was recruited heavi
ly by Michigan early last fall.
“They offered to me the begin
ning of the season, but I would have
hated myself if I got to Michigan and
I didn't like it,” Slechta said.
Slechta played for a Papillion
team that finished second in the
Class A state football playoffs this
season. He ran a 5.04 second elec
tronic 40-yard dash and has a 28
inch vertical leap.
“He really has excellent move
ment,” Nebraska Football Coach
Frank Solich said. “We’ll give him
an early look at helping out on the
Gene Suhr, Slechta s high school
coach, said Slechta fits die mold of a
typical Nebraska player.
“The NU coaches do a great job
of evaluating talent and individual
players,” Suhr said. “They know
Jeremy will fit into their system.”
Nebraska coaches project
Slechta as a defensive tackle at the
college level, Slechta said. But he
said he did not know whether or not
he would play Ids freshman year or if
he would redshirt.
“They told me I have to get
stronger and faster,” he said. “If they
want to give me shot at playing time
next year, I’ll take it”
3 The most positive thing about
coming to Nebraska will be playing
on owe of the nation’s best defenses, X
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