Micah Kreikemeier (44) recovers a fumble to seal the win at Michigan State.
By Randy York
Micah Kreikemeier (pronounced creck-a-meyer) is a second-generation Nebraska Cornhusker from Central Catholic High School in West Point, Neb. He was the first player to commit to Nebraska following the hiring of Bo Pelini as head coach in December of 2007, making him Recruit No. 1 in Pelini’s first recruiting class.
A 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker, Kreikemeier is one of 29 seniors making their final appearance at Memorial Stadium Saturday against Minnesota. We asked Kreikemeier for his reflections on a senior class that has chance to win the Huskers’ first conference championship in 13 years.
As the son of a former Husker, Kreikemeier knows exactly how many conference championships are in Nebraska’s trophy case – 43. “Our senior class,” Kreikemeier said, “wants to win the 44th and get the tradition back of not just being good, but dominant.” Take a nearly five-year stroll down memory lane from a dedicated student-athlete with a 3.811 cumulative grade-point-average in Civil Engineering:
Q: What’s been your most memorable moment as a Husker?
A: Every time I go through that Tunnel Walk, I still goose bumps. I’ve had that excitement ever since I first experienced the Tunnel Walk as a little kid many years ago. It’s an experience that I will never forget.
Q: In your opinion, what’s been the most magical team moment of the season?
A: Coming back to win against Michigan State. Being down by 3 with a minute and whatever left in the game … no timeouts … 80 yards away from the end zone. That’s a scenario that you set up in your backyard as a little kid. Driving down and being able to score a touchdown just shows the resiliency that we have. And for me personally, being able to go down on a kickoff and recover a fumble to seal the victory was the icing on the cake.
Q: It’s Year 5 of the Bo Pelini Era. Can you paint a picture of the culture?
A: I think the original Nebraska culture that Devaney, Osborne and Solich set is now back in place. This senior class has had great leadership – the best I’ve been a part of in all five years. The accountability that we have for one another is beyond great, and our senior class, I believe, is much more involved with the younger guys on the team. We know that we need those young guys to be successful. Hopefully, we’ve done a good enough job that the underclassmen will be able to reinforce and extend the culture that we’ve recreated.
Q: Philosophical question: What does “There Is No Place like Nebraska” mean?
A: To me, it means no other university cares about football like the state of Nebraska does. We’re the only football team around here, and the entire state cares so much about this team. We don’t have any guys on this team who play and only care about themselves or are just trying to get to the NFL. Everyone here plays for each other, and for the fans and for everyone in this state. It’s just that much better knowing that so many people care about what we do.
Q: Can you describe Rex Burkhead in a few short sentences?
A: He’s always worked hard in everything he did. He took on the whole Team Jack thing, which is awesome. He’s easy to talk to and has a very difficult time saying no (laughter here). He has a great family, and I’m just glad to know them and him.
Q: This senior class has an opportunity to win Nebraska’s first conference championship in 13 years. Is that a big deal?
A: HUGE deal! This program has won 43 conference championships, and our senior class wants to win the 44th and get the tradition back of not just being good, but dominant. That’s where this program needs to get back to. It’s been our goal since January. As a team, we’ve gone through a great deal of time and sacrifice to put ourselves in the position that we’re at today, and we can still reach our goal.
Q: Saturday also marks Tom Osborne’s final appearance at Memorial Stadium as a member of the athletic department. It will be Game No. 500 for him as an assistant coach, head coach and athletic director. Have any thoughts on that?
A: Well personally, I could say that he’s the one who invited me to join this great program. I feel like I’ve had a good relationship with Coach Osborne all five years here, and he’s been nothing but outstanding. He’s a man I’ve looked up to all my life, and knowing that my dad was able to play for him makes the experience that much more meaningful to me. Our senior class likes to joke that Coach Osborne came back here as the A.D. when we all got here, so now he’s officially “graduating” with us, too.
Q: Each senior will be greeted by Coach Pelini on Senior Day. What have you learned from Coach Bo?
A: I’ve learned so many great lessons from Coach Bo. He’s showed us the way to succeed, not just in football, but for life after football. He’s taught us what it takes to be a great leader, which we’ll all need when we get married and have kids. We need to be great husbands and fathers, which therein means that we need to be great role models. He’s also a very down-to-earth guy, which makes it so much easier to play for him.
Q: Most athletes have role models. Who’s yours?
A: Definitely my dad (Keith). He played here in the early ‘80s, and I’ve always seen his helmet and other pictures in his office when I was growing up. As I got older, I worked for him on our feedlot, and he always gave me a great amount of responsibility. He was always there to help me, and he helped push me towards my successes. He’ll be there to meet me on the field Saturday, along with my mom (Jodi) and fiancé (Alexa Staehr), who are the two most important women in my life. But my dad is definitely my biggest role model. I still look up to him today. I love him a lot.
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