Three Husker seniors enjoyed the honor of being selected by their teammates as 2007 Nebraska team captains following practice on Friday, Aug. 24. This season's group consists of linebacker Bo Ruud, center Brett Byford and cornerback Zack Bowman.
Bo Ruud joins a long line of Ruud men to have earned the honor of captaining a Husker squad, as he accompanies his brother, Barrett, father, Tom and uncle, Bob Martin in being selected as a captain. Barrett Ruud, who is now a starting linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, carried the honor in 2004, making he and his father the first father-son duo elected as captains in NU football history. The addition of Bo to this family tradition marks the second father-son pairing and the seventh brother captain combination in Nebraska history.
Prior to his sons' successes at NU, Tom Ruud was an all-conference linebacker who served as a team captain during his senior season in 1974. In addition, Martin served as a team captain the following season in 1975, and his great-grandfather Clarence Swanson was the Huskers' captain in 1921.
Bo Ruud earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2006 and was tabbed for preseason first-team all-league honors in 2007. He has also been listed by several services as a contender for All-America honors and is on the watch list for the Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. Ruud enters 2007 with 162 career tackles and is poised to make a push for the all-time Husker top 10.
"It's a tremendous honor to be elected captain here," Ruud said. "The tradition here is unbelievable. It's just a privilege and honor to be elected by your teammates. I'm really excited and I'm going to do everything I can to help out this program and my teammates."
The election of Byford and Bowman also makes history for the Huskers, as Nebraska has never before had an Alabama (Byford) or an Alaska (Bowman) native captain a team.
Byford returns to anchor an experienced Husker offensive line in 2007, after going from a reserve to a top-level Big 12 center by the close of 2006. An honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick in 2006, Byford is expected to be among the league's top centers this season. He has been named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Award, named in honor of former Husker great Dave Rimington.
Bowman's return to practice this season has been a remarkable one. The hard-luck story of the Husker football program for the past year, the Anchorage, Alaska, native missed the entire 2006 season with an ACL injury to his left knee. After rehabilitating the injury, Bowman was sidelined once again this spring. Although his initial prognosis gave him an expected return date of between mid-August and early October, Bowman aimed for the former and made a triumphant return to fall camp this week. His return should bolster an already veteran Husker secondary that returns three starters from 2006.
Nebraska held a 2 1/2 hour practice in full pads inside the Hawks Championship Center on Friday. The Huskers continue preparations for Nevada with a practice Saturday before Sunday's workout in front of the student body.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson addressed the media following practice and commented on the team's approach with the season opener eight days away.
"We're right outside a week away," Watson said. "We need to start getting our legs back so we're taking a smart approach and trying not to beat them up too much. But you have to have a high speed practice, which is what we do here.
"There were things we needed to get done today and things we need to get done tomorrow that pertain to situational football. We just need to keep grinding through it. We had another really good day. You sense that it's all coming together, so we just need to keep pushing."
The Huskers will be back at work on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., before finishing the week on Sunday.