You've certainly heard of Nebraska kids turning down offers from other schools, simply wanting to walk-on with the Huskers and take their chance at living the native-Nebraskan dream.
Former Fremont High wide receiver Matt Donahue is doing that, albeit he's taking the scenic route.
After a year with Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats, Donahue decided that while things were going well there, he'd like to be a little closer to home. "That's about it, really. It definitely wasn't because anything at Ohio was that bad. It wasn't. It was a great experience," Matt said. "I got a chance to get a feel for the speed of the game, so that gives me a lot of confidence as to what I can do at Nebraska ."
Matt's freshman season at Ohio was cut a bit short due to a broken thumb, as he only played in five games. Donahue averaged an impressive 23.8 yards per catch as he hauled in six balls for 143 yards, over a hundred of it coming against Wyoming in non-conference play.
Prior to that, Donahue was a three-time letterwinner in football while at Fremont, Matt finishing off his career nicely with 40 catches for 905 yards as a senior. Matt earned Super State honors from the Lincoln Journal Star, stemming from that year, along with All-State honors from the Omaha World Herald.
At 6-2 and just under 180 pounds, Donahue wasn't the physical presence that you might get out of a Maurice Purify-type, but Matt said that what he did seemed to work. "As I got used to it, it got a little easier each time out there," he said. "We played Virginia Tech, and on defense, those guys do just about everything.
"It was good going against competition like that, because you find out that you either can do it or you can't, and I think I found out that I could."
Due to NCAA rules, Donahue will have to sit out one year before he can participate with the team. The good side to that is that he still has his redshirt to burn. That would give him three years of playing time available.
In regard to just the idea of coming back to Nebraska and taking his shot at getting on the team, Matt said that the opportunity is nice, and he's equally excited that the coach he talked to before all the staff changes, is still on the team. "Coach (Ted) Gilmore was the guy I always talked to, so it's really nice to see he's still with the team," Matt said. "And that offense they run is pretty exciting. So, I am eager to give it a shot and see what I can do."
There will be some relatively new faces to all Husker fans when this new staff finally takes the field. But one face Matt will know very well, because that coach was there at Ohio with him during his first season with the Bobcats. "He's a great coach and a really energetic guy," Matt said of former Ohio defensive line coach Carl Pelini. "He's real good with the players and I think that he'll do a great job at Nebraska ."
Of course, once Matt steps on campus and then, on the field, he's got his own goals in mind. Coming home is in and of itself, enough and something Matt is welcoming in the second chapter of his collegiate life. However, the competitor in him is thinking about the future.
He sees the Husker offense, which ranked top 10 in both passing offense and total offense for the 2007 season. He sees a big red attack which had two players finish the season ranked in the top 10 of the conference in receptions per game. "I figure they will probably stick to the same style (of offense) –maybe change it a bit, but not a lot. And that is a really exciting offense to watch.
"It's going to be fun to get in there and see what I can do, because they give receivers a lot of opportunities to make plays."
Nebraska will have a host of receivers coming back, but lose a core of experienced and talented players in Purify, Terrence Nunn and Frantz Hardy. Donahue still has a year beyond this year to wait, though. So, he's anxious, but patient, because he knows his time will come.
"I'm not going into it with any idea of what is going to happen, because I just don't know. But I think it's going to be a lot of fun," Matt said. "I just want to play and if I can help the team out in any way, that's what I want to do.
"It feels good, though, to get back inside the state."