OMAHA - When Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick chose to come back for his senior season being in Omaha on Jan. 12 was probably on his short list.
Crick was present at Thursday night's Outland Trophy ceremony at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel in Omaha, but in a different role than he would've wanted.
Crick had aspirations to be NU's 10th Outland Trophy winner in school history, but an injury plagued senior season took him out of contention for the prestigious award.
Instead Crick was present to receive the Cletus Fischer Native Son award given to a senior player each year from the state of Nebraska.
As Crick sat at the head table and watched Alabama's Barrett Jones take home the Outland, it's hard not to wonder what was going through his mind.
A year ago Crick could've come out and been a potential first or second round draft pick after being named an All-American. Instead Crick chose to follow his heart and stay at Nebraska for one more season risking potential millions.
You all know the story from here. Crick went down with a season ending pectoral injury following the Huskers come from behind win over Ohio State. During Crick's speech, the Cozad native complimented the Alabama left tackle for deciding to come back for his fifth season.
"I'd also like to commend you for staying for your senior year," Crick said to Jones. "I did that as well, and it takes a determined individual to do something like that and to give up as much money you are giving up."
Just like Crick, Jones bleeds his school colors and truly enjoys the college experience. Growing up in Memphis, Jones's father played basketball for the Crimson Tide and his brother Harrison is currently a tight end for Alabama.
Turning down guaranteed millions says a lot about Jones, especially when you see the risk involved.
Through it all though Crick has been the same person. He was a great teammate and leader for Nebraska down the stretch even though he couldn't contribute on the field.
"Obviously this was not the way Jared wanted to finish the 2011 season, but I think as a man he really grew because of it," linebackers coach Ross Els told the crowd as he talked about Crick. "I think the true measure of a man isn't what he does when everything is going well. It isn't when he's having fun or he's winning football games or everybody is telling him how great he is. Anybody can be a good person then. It's what happens in adversity.
"When something wrong happens how are you going to respond. We couldn't have asked Jared for a better response than what you gave this football team. You are a leader to that defensive line. You are a motivator. You are a coach on the sideline. Everything we asked you to do, you did it."
Other Outland notes
***Offensive lineman Mike Caputo said he's excited to get the opportunity to play in the NFL PA game on Jan. 21.
"I want to play football as long as I can," Caputo said. "Hopefully that pans out, but if not I'll get a real job, so we'll see how that goes."
***Crick said he continues to rehab and hopes to be close to 100 percent in the next month. One of his main goals right now is finding an agent as he gets ready to go through the draft process.
Crick has been invited to both the Shrine and NFL PA games, but obviously he won't be healthy enough to play.
"I would be nice though to go down to the NFL PA game or the Shrine game just to go down and talk to scouts and GM's and that sort of thing," Crick said. "Right now my first plan is getting some representation and just moving forward that way."
***Linebacker Lavonte David was not present on Thursday to receive his Chamberlain award because of a family obligation back home in Miami.
***Defensive tackle Terrence Moore split the Novak award with Caputo, as over his career at Nebraska he went through Hurricane Katrina and lost his father as a senior.
"What an inspiration and what mental toughness he showed to his teammates and what an example he gave to his teammate on how to live life and honor his dad," offensive line coach Barney Cotton said of Moore. "We were all so proud of him and we were also thankful he came back to join us."
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.