The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 07, 1998, Page 8, Image 8

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Voss adjusts to new
NU pitcher rotation
SOFTBALL from page 7
conditioning,” pitcher Jenny Voss said.
“We weren’t all there in the fall, but we
have a lot of new people, so the fall sea
son was a good
test for them.”
The team fin
ished last season
at 48-12 after it
played in the
College World
Series and was
ranked fifth in the
Revelle The Huskers
lost a lot of key
players including Ali Viola, the former
shortstop who holds the school’s
records in home runs, RBI, batting
average and slugging percentage.
Also lost was Jenny Smith, the for
mer catcher who had been honored as
first-team All-Big 12 catcher twice.
Another much-missed player,
Christie McCoy, is a former pitcher
and the recipient of first-team All-Big
12 and first-team All-Midwest Region
honors as a designated hitter.
“You don’t replace great players,
you get a lot more great players,” Head
Coach Rhonda Revelle said.
She accomplished this by rebuild
ing the team. This season’s team has
been constructed with pitcher Eeigh
Ann Walker, who has betm credited by
Revelle as being capable of holding
any team down.
Her freshman debut largely was
due to Voss’ sore arm, which forced
Voss to cut back on her pitching.
“I only pitched one game a tourna
ment,” Voss said, “but if it was a Friday,
Saturday, Sunday tournament, I could
pitch a Friday game and a Sunday
Overall, the Comhusker softball
team is facing a prosperous future,
Revelle said.
“I think we have very much to
learn. However, they are a hard work
ing, talented group.”
NUs Crouch,
FOOTBALL from page 7
Newcombe or Crouch.
NU center Josh Heskew said
there will not be a disruption in the
offensive attack no matter who is at
the quarterback position.
“With as much diversity as we’ve
had in our quarterbacks, we are used
to all of than,” Heskew said. “We’re
not keyed in on one person or one
type of voice, so it shouldn’t be too
different in the game whoever is
Although the quarterback situa
tion still remains unclear, Solich is
confident that whoever is put into
action will perform well against
“We’re fortunate that we have
been able to play three quarterbacks
throughout the season,” Solich said.
“All three when called upon have
responded very well, so we feel com
Johnson: ‘My mom kept me here’
JOHNSON from page 7
while playing at Alhambra High. He
earned the Tyrone Byrd award,
named for the former Nebraska free
safety and given to the best defensive
back in Arizona.
His play drew the attention of
Ron Brown, the Nebraska receivers
coach who recruits in the southwest
ern part of the country. Johnson
instantly impressed Brown.
“Eric’s high school team wasn’t
that good, but he never had a bad
word to say about anything,” Brown
said. “He’d just say, ‘Coach, we lost,
but I had fun, and I love to play.’ That
is a very rare thing.”
Colorado, Michigan and Arizona
State, among others, also recruited
Johnson. He selected Nebraska
because he “loved the campus” and
Nebraska has mandatory study
halls, and I knew it would help me
academically,” Johnson said. “And I
like that this school isn’t in a big city.
I knew I wouldn’t get distracted by
other things. I knew I could concen
trate on studying.”
An inspiration
Studying is exactly what Johnson
needed to do. His failure to qualify
academically cost him a year of foot
ball eligibility. Johnson could not
compete his freshman year, but he
often lifted weights with his team
The Huskers accepted Johnson,
who remains grateful for their sup
port during his season away from the
game. Johnson grew to think of the
Nebraska football team as his family.
He could never have guessed how
important that family would become.
Shortly after the 1995 season,
Freeda Johnson, the foundation of
Eric’s real family, lost a battle with
breast cancer. Eric does not know
how long his mother fought the dis
Freeda chose not to reveal her
sickness to him until the very end.
She didn’t want Eric to leave school
for her.
“I really thought about leaving,
but I didn’t because of my mom,”
Eric said. “My mom always wanted
me to graduate from college, and I
promised her that I would. My mom
kept me here.”
Johnson also credits Brown, NU
Coach Frank Solich, former Coach
Tom Osborne, and Linebackers
Coach Craig Bohl for motivating
him to stay at Nebraska. Johnson,
who only recently has started to
establish a relationship with his
father, refers to the four coaches as
his “father figures.”
And it was Brown, Johnson said,
who showed him how to trust in the
Lord. Johnson’s willingness to do so
inspired the coach.
_tL* _i j i_i_
tiling Liiai tuuiu liavt nap
pened to make a guy give up and quit
happened to Eric the first year he was
here,” Brown said. “And not only did
he not give up, but there was always a
smile on his face.
“To have that kind of a positive
attitude in the wake of his personal
circumstances was an inspirational
thing. He says we helped him, but he
helped me and others to see things in
a different light.”
Johnson also has inspired his
“Eric has been through a lot, but
he’s always smiling and always posi
tive,” linebacker Julius Jackson said.
“We try to look out for him, and he
looks out for other people.”
A winning hand
Johnson also has begun to look
out for himself and his future.
Shortly after he arrived at
Nebraska, academic counselors dis
covered that Johnson suffers from
dyslexia, a learning disorder. As he
has learned to cope with it, his grades
have improved.
A1 Papik, NU’s senior associate
athletic director and compliance
Gone but not forgotten
Brown predicts only success for
“Sometimes people think they
have it bad,” Brown said. “They’ll
complain about being hurt or having
an injury, but there aren’t many peo
ple who have as much to complain
about as Eric Johnson. And he never
does. To come out of the things he
did with a smile on his face and a
freshness every day is amazing.”
Johnson’s everyday focus centers
on the little things. He wants to pass
his classes. He wants to improve on
the football field.
He rarely speaks about the strug
gles he endured four years ago. He
doesn’t tell everyone he knows about
the loss of his mother, either.
But he does have a tattoo on his
right arm. The image shows two
faces. The first is a drawing of
Johnson’s mother. Tears run down
the second face.
The tattoo represents the beauty
of his mother and the pain Johnson
feels because of her death. For
Johnson, the tears no longer fall
every day, and the pain has begun to
subside. But the image of his mother
and the promise he made to her
remain with him.
“I think about it a lot, but it gets
easier with time,” Johnson said. “I
know I have to move on. I have to live
my life. But just because I do doesn’t
mean I will forget my mom. I know
she is watching over me.”
coordinator, is working with Johnson
to regain his lost year of eligibility.
Under a recently passed U.S Justice
Department decision, the NCAA
must return a lost year of eligibility
to any learning-disabled student-ath
letes who complete 75 percent of
their coursework in four years.
Johnson expects to graduate in
August, four years after he began
school, with a degree in family and
consumer science. Though NU has
not heard official word from the
NCAA, the Nebraska media guide
lists Johnson as a junior for the sec
ond straight season, presuming he
will return next fall thanks to the new
He then plans to pursue an asso
ciate’s degree to teach history. He
wants to work with at-risk high
school students. Johnson, who was
placed in at-risk programs in
Phoenix, said he believes his person
al experience will help him relate to
students in similar situations.
“I’ve seen the approach some of
those teachers have toward at-risk
students, and some of them go about
it all wrong,” he said. “That’s why I
want to get in there. I want to give
back to the community. I’m glad that
I’m able to.”
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