Nebraska Walk On: Conor McDermott

Some might shy away from a chance to play football if the position is unknown. For some others, the uncertainty at a single position actually provides opportunity. The Nebraska coaches are giving most the chance to be placed at the best possible position for themselves and for the team. That is music to Conor McDermott's, from Omaha (Nebr.) Creighton Prep, ears who

The press release has Conor McDermott listed as a defensive end. The 6-foot-2 and now 240-pound, with 4.7/40 speed, McDermott from Omaha (Nebr.) Creighton Prep has heard at least four different positions by the Nebraska coaching staff.

"I got listed as a defensive end, but I don't know exactly for sure where they are looking at me to play," McDermott said. "They did say that there was a possibility at outside linebacker.

"They also talked to me about moving down to play defensive end. There was also talk about if I got big enough that I could play inside at defensive tackle or even move over and play center.

"So I am not sure as to where they are really looking at me to play right now. I think that it's safe to say that they like me as a defensive end, pretty much."

McDermott was primarily a linebacker at Creighton Prep this year and was also the second string tight end. At his backer spot, McDermott had a solid year for the Bluejays.

"I had 93 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. I was first team academic all-state (3.69 GPA with a 28 ACT), second team all-state by the Omaha World Herald and first team super-state by the Lincoln Journal Star and all-district."

With McDermott's past as a linebacker, and Nebraska looking at him to play a handful of other positions, you have to figure that he is a talented player. McDermott's top quality is relevant to all positions.

"I think that my brother and I, Colin (another Nebraska walk on), are really tough and physical. We are the first players that Coach Jaworski said that we are actually just mean when we are on the field.

"He said that we are the first ones in a long time that he can just say that we are mean. We play tough. We play through injuries and being hurt. We both work hard. We want to make ourselves the best players that we can be."

Like so many of the other walk-ons, McDermott had his chance to receive financial assistance at a number of other schools. McDermott also had a chance to go and walk on at another division one school.

"There were some division two schools that offered. Augustana and Fort Hays were two schools that were very interested. Nebraska-Kearney said that they would talk money on a visit. Iowa asked both of us to walk on and so did Nebraska-Omaha."

Against the other opportunities that McDermott was presented, the idea of walking on at Nebraska was just too much. In fact, in the middle of being recruited and getting offers, McDermott just told the other schools that he was walking on at Nebraska.

"If we would have filled out the financial papers at some of the schools we could have closed on some other offers. By then though, we were just telling schools that we were just going to walk on down at Lincoln. We cancelled other visits to other schools after that.

"When we went down there, it was me, Colin, Jeremy Wallace and Matt Manninger, and they gave us the whole tour. We spoke to Jeff Jamrog and to Tom Osborne. That day, Matt and Jeremy said they were coming.

"The day after the visit, my brother and I called down there and said that we were going to walk on. It just felt right. It was the idea of being part of the first walk-on class again. It was just the idea that they are going to give walk-on players a chance."

To McDermott, there was a better idea about the opportunity that a walk on might have under Bo Pelini going forward than to be a walk on to the previous staff. McDermott received some information from a former player that indicated that to him.

"We all got to go to games down there under the previous staff and we got to talk to a couple of the coaches at the lunches and stuff. I got a chance to talk to a couple of the players after the coaching change and they said that it would be a good idea to walk on.

"I consulted an ex-player from down there and he said that he wouldn't have walked on at Nebraska under the previous staff, but from what he has heard under Pelini that the chance was something to really consider.

"I went out and got some other opinions about what I should do and I felt like I didn't want to wonder ‘What if?' at some point in the future. I didn't want to say that I could have, but I didn't.

"I really wanted to give myself a chance at it. It's really what I wanted to do because growing up in Nebraska, with all of the walk-ons and seeing what they did. The opportunity was there and I just wanted to take it."

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