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February 10, 2012For those fans wanting to get a glimpse of some of this seasons' latest class of incoming Huskers, look no further than the 54th annual Nebraska Shrine Bowl.
With 13 NU walk-ons set to play in the state's high school football all-star game, this year's Shrine Bowl features as much future collegiate talent as it has in years.
Husker scholarship tight end commit Sam Cotton of Lincoln Southeast won't be able to play in the game due to a groin injury that may require surgery, and Kansas State quarterback commit Tavarius Bender of Lincoln Southwest is already enrolled at KSU and also won't play.
Even so, Shrine Bowl officials are thrilled about bringing together the best talent the state had to offer for the game.
"We're real excited about the players we were able to get," said Steve Nelson, executive direction of the Shrine Bowl. "You look at (Nebraska's) recruited walk-on list this year and see that we've got a large majority of those players. Those are obviously some of the best players in the state, and we're excited to have them play them game."
The North team features six Nebraska walk-ons, while seven will play for the South.
The future Huskers on the North include wide receiver Cole Chvatal of Bishop Neumann; running back Graham Nabity of Elkhorn; quarterback Ryker Fyfe and safety Sam Foltz of Grand Island; and running back Jordan Nelson and linebacker Mitch McCann of Omaha Burke.
The South has tight end Ross Dzuris of Plattsmouth; offensive lineman Dylan Utter of Papillion-LaVista; wide receiver Brandon Reilly of Lincoln Southwest; offensive lineman Garret Johns of Aurora; fullback Andy Janovich of Gretna; linebacker Brad Simpson of Ralston; and tight end Trey Foster of Lincoln Southeast.
Foster said he was excited to get to know some of his future Nebraska teammates better, especially since some were his opponents only a few months ago.
"I just see it as a great opportunity to get to know each other better, get to know the other players," Foster said. "Some of us haven't played against each other or with each other as much as others, and I think it'll be a great prequel to how we're going to do."
"One of the primary goals of our organization is to be the premier all-star game in Nebraska," Nelson said. "To do that, you do have to have great players. We feel we've got a great game. We've got a game that's stood the test of time - 54 years coming up this year. We do want to have very good players, because they're the ones down the road that are going to be future ambassadors for our game.
"We're very blessed to have two Heisman Trophy winners that have played in our game in Eric Crouch and Johnny Rodgers, and a lot of All-Americans over the years. It's important to us to keep that tradition."
For the second year in a row, the game will be played earlier than normal, as it is once again set for Saturday, June 2, at 1:30 p.m. CT at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium.
Nelson said the idea for moving the game up to June from August was to both spare the players from the late-summer heat as well as give them more of a break between the game and the start of their college fall camps.
Also, the first session of college summer classes begin that following Monday on June 4.
As for the 1:30 p.m. kickoff, the game had previously been a 7 p.m. start, but because of the renovations to Memorial Stadium the university couldn't guarantee functioning stadium lights.
Practice for the Shrine Bowl will begin on Friday, May 25, with the North team practicing and staying at the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus in Lincoln and the South at the Doane College Campus in Crete.