Top: Martinez, Smith and Marlowe. Bottom: Price, Kriekemeier and Nabity.
By Randy York
For the fourth time this season, Nebraska junior quarterback Taylor Martinez was named the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week, placing him in elite company – tied for second for the most single-season honors in the history of the nation’s oldest intercollegiate conference. Martinez was also named Nebraska’s Offensive Player of the Game following extensive film review of the Huskers’ dramatic 28-24 come-from-behind win over Michigan State last Saturday.
Martinez, however, would be the first to describe the win as a team triumph, and Nebraska coaches also honored five of his teammates, whose photos are engraved on the same plaque with Martinez and hangs outside NU’s locker room door. Those sharing the week’s team honors with T-Magic include:
P.J. Smith, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior safety from John Curtis High School in River Ridge, La. Smith is the Defensive Player of the Game.
Tim Marlowe, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior wide receiver from Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. Marlowe is the Special Teams Player of the Game.
Givens Price, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Alief Taylor High School in Houston. Price is the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week.
Micah Kriekemeier, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior linebacker from Central Catholic High School in West Point, Neb. Kreikemeier is the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week.
Graham Nabity, a 6-foot, 200-pound freshman I-back from Elkhorn High School in Omaha. Nabity is the Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Week.
T-Magic Confidence Continues to Grow
Martinez accounted for 205 rushing yards and two scores while throwing for 160 yards and two more touchdowns. “I think Taylor is pretty calm and has a lot of confidence,” Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said Monday. “Let’s face it. He’s getting better as a football player. As you get better, your confidence grows. You have a belief that you can go into a situation like that and have success. I don’t exactly want to find us in that situation again, (even though) he’s a guy who can execute when need be.”
Smith Leads the Team in Total Tackles
Smith led the Blackshirts in total tackles with 12. Seven were solos, five assists and two resulted in losses. He also broke up a pass. Smith said Monday that the Blackshirts “flew around to the ball” and “communicated a lot better” in the fourth quarter when they knew they had to create opportunities for Nebraska’s explosive offense to win the game. Smith went out of his way on Monday to praise teammate Justin Blatchford as a smart leader that saved a touchdown by breaking up a pass.
Marlowe Contributing in Two Ways
Marlowe caught a 15-yard pass at Michigan State and also reeled off a pivotal 19-yard punt return. Nebraska coaches and players alike consider Marlowe to be one of the toughest Huskers on the field. After missing five games with a broken collarbone, he now has four receptions for 54 yards in Nebraska’s three-game winning streak. Marlowe enjoyed playing at Michigan State because “they’re a feisty team” and both teams “were really getting after it out there … just 11 on 11. It was definitely a physical game.”
Price Became a Husker at Age 16
Price is a unique recruiting story. He was only 16 years old when he first reported to classes on the UNL campus in the fall of 2011. Previously committed to Rice, Price arrived in Lincoln after turning down two Big 12 scholarship offers. Givens Marvelous Mordi Price (his full name) is academically gifted as well as athletically. He skipped the fourth grade and compressed two school years into one after spending two years in Nigeria with his parents. He did not play varsity football as a junior in high school.
Kriekemeier an Answer to Trivia
Kriekemeier is another unique recruiting story because he was the first player offered in Bo Pelini’s initial recruiting class. NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne thought Kriekemeier represented the character traits on which Osborne built his own program as head coach. Despite limited playing time, Kriekmeier has been a model team-first contributor. NU Linebacker Coach Ross Els, in fact, calls Kriekemeier a “phenomenal young man” and a “solid teammate” that is always willing to help younger players develop.
Nabity Decided to Walk On at NU
Nabity is a member of the best walk-on class in the Bo Pelini era. Turning down a scholarship to South Dakota State to walk on at Nebraska, Nabity has two great strengths – solid athleticism (he’s quick, strong and has a 36-inch vertical jump) and consistent performance (he helped lead Elkorn to the Nebraska Class B state championship game as a junior and rushed for 1,532 yards and a Class B-leading 24 touchdowns as a senior). Nabity was the honorary captain of the Omaha World-Herald’s and the Lincoln Journal-Star’s Class B all-state teams.
Team-First is the Philosophy
All six Huskers are team-oriented players, but Els believes Kriekemeier is in a league of his own. “He cares much more about the team than he does himself,” Els said. Even though his weekly award is based largely on his contributions to the Scout Team, opportunity knocked for Kriekemeier at Michigan State. The senior linebacker made a crucial fumble recovery in NU’s great escape from East Lansing.
In his first four years as a Husker, two knee surgeries kept Kriekemeier from playing a single snap. As a redshirt freshman, he did work his way up to second team. He even made NU’s travel roster before the second knee injury pushed him deep into the depth chart. Still, never once did Micah Kriekemeier consider quitting the team, proving once again that good things come to good athletes willing to wait for their day in the sunshine.
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