Taylor Martinez has been to the Rose Bowl before. Even counted himself as a UCLA fan once upon a time.
Quincy Enunwa followed Southern Cal. Josh Mitchell tried being a UCLA fan, but just to get under the skin of his mother, Gwenn, because she went to USC.
The common thread is that these and other Nebraska players from California grew up watching the home-state teams, never realizing at the time that they would be playing their own college football in the Midwest.
“I was kind of thrown off,” said Mitchell, recalling the first time he realized NU was serious about recruiting him. “I was like, ‘Nebraska? What’s in Nebraska?’ Then I took my trip here and I saw what it was all about.”
Nebraska has eight Californians on its roster and at least six will travel Saturday as the Huskers visit UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Five likely will start — Martinezat quarterback, Enunwa at receiver, Mitchell at cornerback, Daimion Stafford at safety and Cameron Meredith at defensive end – and Eric Martin should also see time at defensive end and on special teams.
“It means a lot to me, going back to California and playing at the Rose Bowl, so I’m very excited about that,” Martinez said.
Martinez said UCLA was recruiting him as a safety but never offered a scholarship.
“I was kind of disappointed about that,” he said. “But I’m glad I get to go back there and play them.”