Visit brings new experiences, same excitement

For a young man who had only missed two Nebraska home games the entire season, you'd think an official visit might be a bit anticlimactic. Not so, said Husker commit C.J. Zimmerer. Because of the time, because there wasn't a game, this was one of the best visits he's had.

Only twice has Omaha Gross two-way standout C.J. Zimmerer missed a home game at Nebraska this last season. That's six out of eight opportunities. Each didn't vary much either, as you take the tour, take in the game and visit with the coaches and players when you can.

This time around there is no game to worry about. This time there isn't this mad rush to do this, that and the other thing. For an official visit you could say this was how it was supposed to be or how it should be when you want to find out everything about your future school. Zimmerer did that. "It was just a lot of stuff you don't see or hear about like everything they do at Huskervision, how they make certain things like the psyche-up videos and all that," C.J. said. "Plus, the great thing is that you really get a chance to sit down with the coaches, get to talk to more of the players and really get to know some of the people."

For Zimmerer, that obviously means Offensive Line Coach Barney Cotton, because he's been C.J.'s primary recruiter the entire time. But because he's slated to play fullback, Running Backs Coach Tim Beck was another person he talked to a lot. But throw in Defensive Ends Coach John Papuchis, because Coach J.P., as all players call him once they get to know him, coaches another aspect of the game which Coach Papuchis seems to think C.J. could fit in with as well. "He asked me if I would be interested in long snapping. You don't have to be a big guy to do that and block for as long. So,it's something he was talking about me about," Zimmerer said.

At 6-2 and around 220 pounds, that's obviously something that C.J. didn't anticipate being asked about, but much like the fullback position, which isn't his first love, he said if they want him or need him to play it, he will. "If it's good for the team I'll do it. I don't care what it is, but if they need me to play it, that's where I will play," he said.

His first love seems to be linebacker, a position he played quite well leading up to an elbow injury he suffered against Crete in the playoffs, dating back to the last week in October. For the abbreviated season, C.J. finished with 90 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, nine of his tackles for loss and one of those a sack. But C.J. was also an offensive force for his Gross team as he rushed the ball for 1,325 yards, scoring 17 touchdowns on the year.

The fullback position is one which hasn't been very prominent in the offense over the last few years, certainly not as a ball carrier. But when it comes to the season he watched, C.J. thought that the fullback was used correctly. "I think when you look at the experience they had at wide receiver and just what was working for Nebraska, the four wides was working better with them than having a traditional I-formation," he said. "They seem to get a lot more production out of that, especially early in the season. So, I think they did it right."

With any player coming in, especially at a position which seems to be off the field more than it is on,there is this hope that things could change a little bit. But back to how C.J. views his future with the program, if it happens,it happens, but he's not going to worry about it one bit. "Like I said, they will use that position how they see it will work the best and help the offense. That's good enough for me," Zimmerer said. "I'm going in with the idea that if they want me to do it, I'll do it. If they need me someplace, that's where I will be.

"I just want to play."

As for the visit itself, Zimmerer found himself amongst familiar company as he was with fellow Husker commit Lincoln Northeast defensive tackle Cole Pensick, who, like Ziummerer, has been to most of the home games this last season. C.J. said that amongst the hosts he was with, were redshirt freshman center Mike Caputo and freshman offensive lineman Brian Thorsen. But he got to meet some other fellow commits, too. "Cole and I were together a lot,but I also hung out with that big lineman Jesse Coffey," C.J. said. "I also got to meet (Taylor) Martinez, (Lazarri) Middleton and the defensive tackle (Sione Tuihalamaka) from California.

With any player coming in from a climate which isn't as varied as that in Nebraska, one always has to wonder about just what impact the weather will have once the step foot in the Husker state. While Zimmerer couldn't speak about that in respect to Tuihalamaka, Nebraska's lone non-committed visitor, he didn't think that was an issue for other players stepping on campus for the first time. "With Martinez and Middleton, I think they knew that it would get cold here, and I don't think that bothered them at all," he said. "I don't know about the defensive lineman, though. He's a really funny guy, but I didn't really get an idea how much he liked his visit, if he thought it was a fit or whatever."

There's no question about that for C.J., of course, knowing way back in May that this is where he wanted to be. From that point, through all the games and up to this very day, all he's seen and experienced has only reinforced just how optimistic he is about the future of the big red. "You see how this team played all year, they didn't play like that last year, especially when games got out of hand," he said. "That's all to do with Coach Pelini. He brought something here that was missing, and that Clemson game just showed how much this team was not going to give up no matter what.

"That's how you should play, and they did it all year long."

For C.J., his rehab off his elbow injury which involved surgery, is going according to plan. He expects that in four weeks he'll be one hundred percent and cleared to get back to his typically rigorous work out schedule. He can't wait for that. He can't wait for when he signs his Letter of Intent, so he can learn even more about the offense in which he'll be involved. Basically, he can't wait for the future.

"It's going to be great, and I am going to be a part of that. It's impossible not to get excited about what's ahead," he said. "It's a dream come true for me, and all you want to do is just get to practicing, lifting and just getting better.

"I'm really excited about the future."


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