Domann embracing role as the "cinco"
There's been a considerable amount of buzz surrounding Nebraska defender JoJo Domann this spring and for good reason.
The junior from Colorado Springs, Colo. is coming off of his most successful season as a Husker to date, he's reshaped his body and is weighing 230-pounds and working at a specialized position that no other player on the team is practicing.
“They call it ‘Cinco.’ That’s what they call it," Domann said about the position he's been working at this spring. "I’m the only one. I’m the Cinco. They (named) it that during the season. It’s like their nickel ‘backer name. If I’m the only one there maybe I can have a conversation with them, maybe we can rename it. I don’t know, we’ll see.”
A year ago at this time Domann was still sidelined as he was coming off of his second knee injury over the course of a year. He wasn't even sure the new Nebraska coaching staff knew who he was let alone what he was capable of doing on the football field.
That started to change during fall camp last August. However, a stress fracture in his back sidelined him once again until the Northwestern game where he played only on special teams. Domann went on to make some plays defense against Bethune-Cookman and Minnesota which led to his first career start against No. 8 Ohio State where he made the biggest play of his young career, a strip-sack on quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
That was the opportunity he had been waiting for to prove himself to the coaching staff and he didn't disappoint.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to do," Domann said about wanting to prove himself as a playmaker. "Honestly, I just had to stay patient and trust the Man upstairs that I was going to be blessed with the opportunity to (prove myself). I feel like I have capitalized on that and I continue to try and prove myself each and every day and every practice. I was just waiting on it, working every day, waiting for my opportunity and now it’s here.
“I think it had to be Ohio State when they were like, ‘Alright, this man is going to make plays when his number is called.’ That was my first career start.
“We were in a disguised blitz so I just had to hold it. The wideout from the other side came to my side so I just had to hold it. Once the snap came they slid the protection to the boundary and I’m scotch free. I’m like, ‘Don’t throw it, don’t throw it, don’t throw it’ and the closer I get I’m like, ‘Oh my God he’s not throwing it, he’s not throwing it’ then boom. It happened in slow motion. I relive it in my head every once in awhile.”
Domann went on to make big plays in games against Illinois and Michigan State as well last season.
Now that Domann has fully made the transition to Nebraska's "cinco" linebacker, he's added the necessary weight and strength to play closer to the line of scrimmage. He's fully embraced his move from safety and is focused on making plays that will help the defense doing whatever is asked of him.
“I’m just playing outside ‘backer, (no safety)," Domann said. "Really, whenever I’m on the field I’m trying to make something happen. I’m not too worried about when you’re playing with the one’s, two’s, three’s those are just numbers right now. It’s more about what you’re doing and doing your assignment correctly.”
Now that he's healthy and has tasted some success on the field, Domann said his goal is to become a Blackshirt, something that he was close to earning last season.
“I left some money on the field last year," Domann said about his play. "For what it was worth, for all of the stuff that has happened to me I thought I had a good year, but there’s plays to be made. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve said this whole offseason, spring ball, this summer that I expect to be a lot better football player than I was this last fall.
“My goal is to live like a Blackshirt so that I can one day become one. I was told last year that I was one play away from earning a Blackshirt and that really hit me hard just because that’s the pinnacle of being a Nebraska football player in my opinion.
"So earning that is going to be a special moment, a special day and a long time coming. I’m just got to live my life like I am one and one day I will be.”