Nearly two dozen Nebraska defenders found black practice jerseys in their lockers right before Monday’s practice.
The NU coaching staff told the players after Saturday’s 24-3 win that they’d earned their Blackshirts. They wore them for the first time Monday.
Unofficially, the count stands at 20 — though that number has not been confirmed by the coaches, who are normally vague when discussing their approach to the Blackshirt tradition anyway.
Among those wearing black after practice Monday were four defensive ends, Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah, Josh Williams and Eric Martin; three defensive tackles, Baker Steinkuhler, Chase Rome and Terrence Moore; three linebackers, Lavonte David, Will Compton and Sean Fisher; three safties, Austin Cassidy, P.J. Smith and Daimion Stafford; and five other defensive backs, Alfonzo Dennard, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Andrew Green, Lance Thorell and Justin Blatchford. Thad Randle, out with a knee injury, reportedly earned a Blackshirt. As did Ciante Evans, who left Saturday’s game with an injury.
Got all that?
Traditionally, black jerseys go exclusively to the first-team defense, but it’s clear this season that Nebraska’s relying on more than just 11 guys.
As always, the Husker players spoke reverently about the Blackshirts as they talked to reporters after practice.
>>> Said David: “It’s an honor. But it was earned. We’ve got to stay with it.”
>>> And Dennard: “I feel like we’ve got to earn the Blackshirts because that’s a statement. If he gave it to us early in the season and we’re not doing a very good job, it really wouldn’t mean anything.”
>>> And Jean-Baptiste: “It’s overwhelming. … It’s a big deal on the defense. Looking at other people who don’t have it and how they feel — I know they want one. It’s a big deal having one.”
>>> And Thorell: “Once I finally did see it, the feeling that I had was tremendous. The tradition that’s behind this shirt, I couldn’t have been more happy.”
We’ll have more on the Blackshirts in Tuesday’s edition of The World-Herald.