Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his staff took the first step Wednesday evening to grow the Huskers’ walk-on program. Frost, alongside associate athletic director for football Matt Davison, and current and former players, hosted a two-hour #HomegrownNebraska event for in-state walk-on prospects. With over 40 invite-only athletes in attendance, the event sounded like a big success overall.
For preferred walk-on defensive end Ryan Schommer from Norfolk (Neb.), it was exactly what he hoped it would be.
“It was everything I expected and more,” Schommer told Land of 10. “It was a lot of information from different staff, and we got to talk to Coach Frost at the end. The majority of it started off with a dinner. After that, Matt Davison was a big part of it. He was the host, I guess you could say. He told his story a bit and then talked about other walk-ons from the past who were great players that even played in the NFL. We got to hear their stories. Joel Makovicka talked to us a little bit about what a great opportunity it was to even be in that room.”
The event also included current Huskers Chris Weber, Luke McNitt, Tyler Hoppes and Cole Conrad. All four have their own unique walk-on stories, which Schommer said was great to listen to.
“They talked about their walk-on journeys, which were all different,” Schommer said. “Hoppes went to Wayne State first and then came. McNitt went to UNK and then to Nebraska. We got to hear that side of what it could be like.”
The players also opened it up for questions, which Schommer said he was more than ready for. He was curious about the players’ goals moving from high school to college. Schommer took note of Weber’s reply.
“Chris Weber said his goals in high school were just to get the attention of the Nebraska coaches,” Schommer said. “He knew one way to do that was to get a 4.0 and he was academically attractive in that regards. He spoke about that and then also shared how he took care of things on the field.”
When the event concluded, Frost took players aside to talk one-on-one. Schommer knows the schedule Frost has been on this week with Peach Bowl preparation in Orlando with Central Florida and recruiting for Nebraska, but the Huskers’ new coach was fully invested Wednesday evening.
“It was pretty special,” Schommer said. “I talked to him on Sunday on the phone. Listening to him, you can tell he was a little tired but it was really special that he was going out of his way to have a conversation on the phone. And today he took me into his office to talk. I was really appreciative of him going out of his way. You can tell he’s a busy man but he’s making the most of it.”
— Ryan Schommer (@SchommerRyan) December 14, 2017
Schommer also respects Frost’s decision to coach UCF in the Peach Bowl. He sees it as a testament to the coach’s relationships with his players.
“I think something he’s big on is the family part of it and being unified,” Schommer said. “If there’s no unity throughout and even afterwards, that relationship wasn’t as strong as he intended it to be. I can tell he has a strong bond with every player he coaches, just like Coach [Tom] Osborne had a bond with him. I look forward to developing that relationship with him.”
In Schommer’s conversations with Frost so far, they’ve discussed his position at defensive end. From the sounds of it, that’s exactly where Frost wants Schommer to play for the Huskers. It works out well too, because that’s where Schommer wants to stay as a player.
Beyond that, Schommer’s appreciation for Nebraska and Frost has only grown in the last few weeks. He’s looking forward to what the future will hold, and got to experience a little of that Wednesday evening.
“I’m thrilled. It’s been a dream of mine for most of my life,” Schommer said. “I wasn’t always positive that football would be the sport for me. I was thinking basketball because I was tall and I could score points, but football took a turn and I opened my eyes up to other ideas. While I’ve always been a fan of Nebraska, once football became the sport and that was decided, I guess you could say I’m 100 times more a fan right now. It’s good to know my family and my sister will be able to share this experience with me.
“I’m just so grateful.”