Nebraska native not backing downFARGO — Like a lot of kids growing up in Nebraska, Kyle Emanuel had the dream of playing football for the University of Nebraska. And he was on the doorstep of making it a reality when something told him to head north. As in North Dakota State.
By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO — Like a lot of kids growing up in Nebraska, Kyle Emanuel had the dream of playing football for the University of Nebraska. And he was on the doorstep of making it a reality when something told him to head north.
As in North Dakota State.
The Bison freshman defensive end narrowed his options to scholarship offers at NDSU, South Dakota State or a walkon opportunity at Nebraska. He grew up in the shadows of Big Red after all, his hometown of Schuyler, Neb., is only about an hour away from Memorial Stadium and its 81,000-seat capacity.
“I was definitely a Husker fan,” Emanuel said. “But at the end of the day, I actually found NDSU could compare a little bit to Nebraska in just the way they go about the pride in the program, the tradition in the program and how crazy the fan base is about Bison football.”
And, he said, the chances of seeing the field were probably better in Fargo than they would be in Lincoln. And in Fargo, in this spring football, he’s seeing a lot of the field.
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Emanuel will most likely open the season next fall in the playing rotation at defensive end. He may not start, but head coach Craig Bohl said he expects Emanuel to be a factor.
“We think he’ll see significant playing time right now,” Bohl said.
He’s yet another player from the 2010 freshman class that is pegged for regular duty. Seven of them played as true freshmen last season and the ones that did redshirt, like Emanuel, are making their presence known this spring.
“Extremely talented,” Emanuel said of his class. “I started to realize it during the season when a number of freshmen were not only playing but starting. Even this spring, I’ve seen the guys that didn’t play that redshirted are coming around now. They’re excelling and moving up the depth charts.”
Emanuel was more of a running back-linebacker at Class B Schuyler, although he saw playing time at defensive end his senior year. NDSU recruited him as a linebacker-defensive end, but didn’t make the commitment to the line of scrimmage until they saw him in practice.
As a scout-team player, he made life tough on the first team offensive line.
“Basically, your job is to prepare the team for their Saturday,” Emanuel said. “You can’t be out there on Saturday to help them on the field but your job is to prepare them as best as possible.”
It won’t be Memorial Stadium, but Saturday home games in the fall from now on will be in the Fargodome.
“It was a dream of mine to play at Nebraska,” he said. “But when I realized I would be a walk-on there, I realized that would be a tough spot knowing you could be at the school for five years and never see the playing field. I just thought, would that be worth it? And when I had a great offer here at NDSU, is that worth going to Nebraska?”
His actions after two weeks of spring football would indicate that he’s already answered his own question.
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.