Nebraska’s need for one more walk-on wide receiver meant a kid deep in Hawkeye country was in for a good surprise.
Iowa City Regina High School star Alex Balke announced Saturday on Twitter he was playing for NU. Until a surprise call from NU wide receivers coach Rich Fisher, the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder had intended to compete in the decathlon at Iowa.
“Coach Fisher called out of nowhere,” said Balke, who was in class, with phone on silent, when Fisher rang. Balke returned the call and found out that the film he’d sent to “every school around the state of Iowa” found a pair of interested eyes.
In return, NU gets a player who worked in a spread, no-huddle offense coached by former Iowa tight end Marv Cook and caught 51 passes for 845 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior year. Balke runs the 100 meters in 11.1 seconds. He made the Des Moines Register’s second-team all-state squad for Class 1A, the third smallest classification in Iowa.
Despite Cook’s ties to Iowa, Balke said the Hawkeyes weren’t interested in extending a walk-on offer.
“I don’t know what they didn’t like about me, but they didn’t have a spot on their team,” said Balke, who attended Nebraska’s 13-7 win over Iowa last November. “They said I could come to one of their tryouts if I wanted. It was weird.”
Instead, he’ll suit up at NU, where he’s familiar with a defensive tradition that Regina has borrowed from the Big Red for its practices.
“The Blackshirts,” Balke said. “Our coach said he modeled it after Nebraska.”