INDIANAPOLIS — Truth be told, Rick Spielman fell in love with autumn Saturdays in Lincoln long before his son decided to do the same.
“Just that whole tradition of going into that stadium and seeing that sea of red,” the Minnesota Vikings general manager — whose son JD is a redshirt freshman wideout with the Nebraska Cornhuskers — said Wednesday as the 2017 NFL Combine got underway.
“I’ve been to a lot of college stadiums and it’s one of my favorite places to go. Not because of my son there, but because of that tradition of playing at Nebraska.”
JD, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound wideout, was named the Huskers scout team offensive MVP last fall. The Gatorade High School Player of the Year for the state of Minnesota as a senior at Eden Prairie High, the younger Spielman is one of several young Big Red targets who are expected during spring practice to step into the void left by the departures of senior wideouts Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore and Brandon Reilly.
Meanwhile, coach Mike Riley’s #Celebraska movement keeps building up steam. Starting this summer, wide receivers coach Keith Williams is going to have a position group on his hands that includes the sons of Spielman, the Vikings general manager since 2012; former NFL wideout Keyshawn Johnson (Keyshawn Johnson Jr.); and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner (Kade Warner).
Johnson Jr., one of the linchpins from the Big Red’s class of 2017, enrolled at Nebraska last month. Warner, the all-time catch leader in Arizona 11-man prep football history, is walking on to the Big Red program and plans to enroll in June.
“I’ve seen him coach some but I can tell you my son thinks very highly of him as a coach,” Spielman said of Williams. “My son was a running back (at Eden Prairie) that they converted to receiver. He’s made a lot of strides, and I give a lot of credit to coach Williams for that.”
The Spielmans adopted JD and his older brother Ronnie — who plays lacrosse at Ohio State — in 1998 while Rick was working in the front office of the Chicago Bears. Spielman was named the Vikings vice president of player personnel in 2006 after stints with the Miami Dolphins, Bears and Detroit Lions. He’s the older brother of former Ohio State and NFL linebacker Chris Spielman.
“It’s an unbelievable program.”
— Rick Spielman, Vikings GM, on the Nebraska Cornhuskers
JD reportedly fielded offers from the Huskers, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan and Minnesota before casting his lot with the Big Red.
“My wife and I feel very blessed that our son has the opportunity to play for coach Riley down at Nebraska,” Rick Spielman said. “It’s an unbelievable program. I scouted a couple of games there this year, and I think probably next year I’ll be able to scout a few more games.”