LINCOLN — One of Nebraska’s most explosive playmakers is the only Husker whose status is in doubt for the Black Friday season finale against Iowa.
Redshirt freshman JD Spielman — who injured his shoulder early at Penn State last weekend but stayed in the game — is “still questionable,” coach Mike Riley said after Wednesday’s practice inside the Hawks Center.
“We’ll wait as long as we have to for JD,” Riley said. “We’re hoping that he feels better (Thursday). If he feels better (Thursday), we’ll put him through the gamut. He hasn’t practiced this week, so we’ll get him going. I’m hoping he just wakes up a new man in the morning.”
Spielman has a team-leading 55 catches to go with 830 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. Though teammate Stanley Morgan is 31 yards from breaking the school record for receiving yards in a season (942), Spielman could also eclipse the mark against the Hawkeyes.
Riley said junior Keyan Williams and senior Gabe Rahn would fill in if Spielman is unable to play.
“There’s a lot of things about JD that are beyond his years,” Riley said. “And toughness is one of them.”
Also on injury watch were running back Devine Ozigbo (ankle), safety Aaron Williams (neck) and linebacker Chris Weber (neck), though Riley said all made it through practice without incident and are expected to play Friday.
Senior Day in Lincoln
No matter how long he’s been with a player, Riley said Senior Day is always a rewarding time for coaches as well as those suiting up for their last college game.
Twenty-two Huskers will dress at Memorial Stadium for the final time.
“It always makes me feel good about what we do and the things that we get to do and the relationships that are developed,” Riley said. “I think every coach feels like that, but it’s such a privilege and relationships are a lifetime. So it’s pretty special.
“And frankly, we can’t even hold it together, with a year like we’ve had, without solid, good seniors that just kind of keep pushing everybody forward. We owe these guys a lot.”
Among those honored will be junior Thomas Connely, a Kearney native who walked on and is a senior by academic standing. The linebacker never appeared in a game but is “a really, really good Nebraska football story,” Riley said. Connely, Erik Evans and Joel Lopez were among those NU coaches were able to get on the travel roster once apiece this fall.
Riley praises Iowa’s Jewell
Asked about Iowa linebacker and leading Big Ten tackler Josey Jewell, Riley called him “smart, tenacious, talented. As good as we’ve seen playing that position.”
Riley also said Iowa’s 55-24 win over Ohio State to start the month showcased all of Iowa’s threats, including a vertical tight end game and strong running attack.
“They have a lot of stuff, actually, for a team that you think just runs the ball,” Riley said. “They have a nice mixture of things they do.”
Iowa at Nebraska
When: 3 p.m. Friday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Radio: 103.1 FM