Herian still hopes to return in the fall
BY RICH KAIPUST
I hope he can go this year!!!
NU football schedule
LINCOLN - All those old, tired clichés now make sense to Matt Herian.
You know, how injured football players say sitting out makes them appreciate the game more. How they talk about having good days and bad days. How they say they can't let themselves get down.
The Nebraska tight end has been spitting those out for almost 18 months.
"I can't imagine what he's going through, but from everything I've seen he's real positive and he's real excited to get back," Huskers quarterback Zac Taylor said. "He's stayed motivated, and that's hard to do when you've been injured for so long."
Herian spoke Saturday as if the worst of it was over in his return from a broken leg eight games into the 2004 season. So bad was the fracture of both his tibia and fibula that it required two surgical procedures and hasn't allowed him to play a game since.
Asked if he could ever be 100 percent again, Herian said yes without hesitation. Asked what he would be doing in spring practice if not for a March hamstring injury, Herian said he would be full go.
"I'm on schedule to play this season," Herian said. "That's all I ask."
That prognosis has been in question since last spring, when it became clear that his left leg wasn't coming along quite right.
"It started healing then kind of slowed down, like it wasn't set right," Herian said. "They realized they needed to do something before too long, so we made that move. It probably took longer than it should have."
Herian never looked close to playing last season, settling for a redshirt and trotting the sidelines all fall. Questions have persisted as the senior still hasn't flashed his old form this spring, but Herian traces that to the hamstring he hurt about two weeks before practice opened.
"Through winter conditioning I was doing fine, until I tweaked the hamstring," Herian said. "Everything was looking just as good as it was before, so I was happy with my progress up until that point."
The Huskers have put Herian in full pads in recent practices but not yet thrown him into "live" drills. Playing in the spring game next Saturday would seem a long shot, and NU coach Bill Callahan said it would be unnecessary if Herian isn't fully ready.
"I haven't really talked to the coaches about it yet," Herian said. "Every practice I'm just doing more and more, getting comfortable with it, and we'll see next week."
Next season is way more important than next week, obviously. Nebraska no doubt could use the former All-Big 12 tight end who owns 53 career receptions for more than 1,000 yards.
"As I get to know him, he's really a special guy," said Shawn Watson, NU's first-year tight ends coach. "He's got a lot of want-to there. I'd never bet against Matt. In our plans, Matt'll be there."