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North Star vs. Pius X, prep football, 8/25

Lincoln Pius X running back Chris Cassidy stiff-arms Lincoln North Star's Garrett Isom (22) out of the way en route to a touchdown in August. Cassidy is among a group of walk-ons for new Nebraska coach Scott Frost.

FRANCIS GARDLER, JOURNAL STAR FILE PHOTO

The wait was getting long for Collin Shefke. Too long.

He'd been to plenty of Nebraska football games as an unofficial visitor. He kept thinking an offer might come. As the calendar bled into November, and then December, nothing. 

The frustration felt familiar for Lincoln Southwest's 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman.

"It almost felt like they liked me but they weren't ready to ask me out to prom yet," Shefke said.

The Silver Hawk senior finally got his date to the dance Wednesday.

Shefke was one of about 40 players who participated in Nebraska's walk-on event at Memorial Stadium. Joined by some of the state's top unsigned prep football players, he met new head coach Scott Frost and listened as he spoke of the importance of NU's walk-on program and laid out his plan for the future.

Of that group, Shefke was one of a few to pick up a preferred walk-on offer from the Huskers. It didn't take him long to accept.

"They asked a select few guys to go with (NU director of high school relations) Kenny Wilhite, and he gathered us down in the tunnel walk area on the field and said, 'There's a reason I took all you guys with me. You guys are special, and you guys should be hearing some good news tonight,'" Shefke said. "And that's about when I figured that maybe they were going to offer us a walk-on spot. So at that moment it was pure happiness."

Shefke became the third Southwest player to join the Huskers as a walk-on, along with Justin Holm and Cameron Pieper.

"It was really nice to hear (Frost) talk about it, because he's from Nebraska and it shows that he actually cares — it's not just words," Holm said. "He actually does care about all the kids from everywhere in the state whose dream it is to come here and play football. 

"So it's nice to have a coach like that; it's really easy to see that he believes in what he says, and I'm excited to get to work."

Other players who accepted walk-on offers Wednesday were Omaha Skutt's Jake Archer, Lincoln Pius X's Chris Cassidy and O'Neill's Wyatt Liewer. Millard West running back Brody Belt and Bellevue West lineman AJ Forbes announced their intentions to join the Huskers on Thursday night.

Liewer made the three-plus-hour drive to attend the event, drove home that night, then went to a full day of school and basketball practice Thursday. He had been offered a walk-on spot on Oct. 5 by the previous coaching staff, but wanted to take his time in making a decision.

"But then after having that walk-on visit, that totally changed my mind," Liewer said. "Coach Frost, that's probably one of the most famous people I've ever shook hands with, so it was a pretty awesome experience getting to talk one-on-one and meeting with him personally; talking about our families and getting to know him."

Several other notable players were at the Wednesday walk-on event, including Kearney's Kanon Koster, Elkhorn South's Moses Bryant, Kearney Catholic's Matt Masker, Seward's Connor Ruth, Lincoln Southwest's Anthony Banderas, Yutan's Colton Feist, Bellevue West's AJ Forbes, Millard West's AJ Johnson and Lincoln Lutheran's Logan Kreizel.

What those players heard was a passionate message from Frost, a Nebraska kid turned national coaching name.

"The walk-ons are the base of this program," Liewer said of Frost's message. "And it takes us hard-working Nebraska kids to set an influence on all the other kids that come in from out of state, and from other schools, to come in and get to work as hard as we have to work to rebuild this program."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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