LINCOLN — Josh Eberhardt had his Husker jersey custom-made. He’s No. 16 — his high school number — with his last name sewn in the back. He had a game-worn Orange Bowl patch affixed to it, and, later, snowflakes. To represent new Nebraska coach Scott Frost.
“I’ve got about $400 in this jersey after all’s said and done,” said the 28-year-old Eberhardt, who lives in Fremont.
He has Frost’s signature on it, too. Right near the top of the one. His buddy, Zach Smith, got Frost’s signature — the “S” and the “F” towering over the other letters like power lines on the plains — on a Husker replica helmet, right near the N.
They waited 12 hours and two minutes to get those signatures. Smith, who lives in Blair, drove to Fremont to meet Eberhardt. Together they drove to Lincoln around 6 a.m., arrived around 6:45, walked around the stadium, and parked outside Gate 24 – the starting spot for the Frost line, at 7.
It was the kind of decisions buddies make on a Friday night. Josh figured fans would be “camped out” and the line “would go all the way to friggin Beatrice” if they showed up too late. They debated whether to get Frost’s signature another time, but Josh settled on Fan Day. He was going. And he was waiting.
Some other fan reached the stadium earlier, but he was at Gate 3. He was beaten by hundreds of fans, including Eberhardt and Smith, to see Frost. And even though Eberhardt and Smith were at the front of the line — a couple with a baby born the day of Scott Frost’s hiring walked in Memorial Stadium first – the duo still had to wait an extra 40 minutes after the gates opened because friends and family of NU players are allowed into Fan Day before regular fans.
Frost took his time, too, with each fan. He’d moved quickly, but didn’t rush. He took pictures.
“Omigosh, did you give him a hug?” one teenage girl asked her friend. “I gave him a hug.”
“Yeah,” her friend said, “I saw.”
Eberhardt and Smith made it to Frost at 7:12 p.m. Eberhardt had planned on telling Frost how long he’d waited. But, in the rush of the moment, he forgot. Another fan behind Eberhardt did it herself.
The wait in the mid-August heat was “brutal,” Eberhardt said, but worth it. In line, they talked about “The Catch” in the 1997 Missouri game, where Frost delivered a deflected pass to Matt Davison. It’s the first game Eberhardt really remembers, which is part of why he wanted to be there Saturday.
There was, perhaps, another reason, too. Eberhardt played high school football for just two years in Blair before leaving the sport.
“I regret it,” Eberhardt said. “But if I could go out here now, even if I got hurt, I’d still do it.”