March 11, 2012

Iowa pitcher Burkamper enjoys NU visit

The first time pitching recruit Derek Burkamper saw the Huskers play live was on Friday, when NU lost 11-8 to California in 11 innings.

But the defeat didn't dampen Burkamper's spirits.

In fact, he was more encouraged after seeing the game than he was before it.

The Huskers trailed by seven runs early in the game but battled back, scoring four times combined in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra innings. At no point did the team get down or give up.

For Burkamper, it was like seeing Darin Erstad's words to him play out on the field.

"They battled and it was awesome," Burkamper said. "They came all the way back. They have a lot of pride in themselves and they know what they're doing. Just by talking to (Erstad), you know this team is going to go on a run these next couple of years. I'm really looking forward to it."

The pitcher from Muscatine, Iowa first visited Nebraska last November and fell in love. He came back early in the winter and gave the Huskers his verbal commitment.

The Huskers weren't his only suitor. Burkamper also visited Missouri and Iowa and was courted by several other teams. But he said there's no chance he'll flip on his verbal pledge.

"This is the place," he said. "I love it. It's awesome."

Burkamper was blown away by the Huskers facilities. He called them "top-notch" and added that when he visited a friend who plays for Texas Christian University, the friend show him around the Horned Frogs' baseball complex.

In his opinion, Nebraska's setup is just as good.

But Burkamper didn't commit because of any shiny new facilities or a beautiful ballpark. He said he was encouraged by his talks with Erstad and pitching coach Ted Silva about how he would fit in as a Husker.

"Immediately when they spoke to you it was like you were part of the family," Burkamper said. "That's what they told me - when you come here, you're going to be a part of the Husker family, and that's something I really liked."

Now the time has come for Burkamper to make some recruiting pitches of his own. He said he's talked to several other potential recruits and has found their feelings about the program's turnaround are similar to his.

And maybe if he can get some of those players to follow him, the Huskers will be in position to have fewer disappointments and more games like Saturday's 12-5 blowout win, which Burkamper also attended.

"I have talked to a few other guys," he said. "They love it now. They probably loved it before, but I can tell that over the next few years, they're going to turn it around and it's going to be awesome."

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