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Grit-n-Balls: Ingredient #5

Last week I posted some musings regarding five main ingredients to a successful football team. As a quick refresher, my rankings were as follows:

  1. Big Uglies
  2. Leadership
  3. Speed
  4. QB Play
  5. Grit-n-Balls

Let's delve into this top 5 as it pertains to our 2012 Nebraska Cornhuskers, one at a time, beginning with #5. Will this team have the recipe for success?

Some people call it heart, but I just like the sound of grit-n-balls. As with most of these ingredients, it's hard to quantify such a characteristic. I think it encompasses everything that is great about the history of Nebraska Cornhusker football. It's about the walk-on tradition. It's about the emulation of the "Nebraska way", or the good old fashioned Nebraska work ethic. It's about never giving up, never giving in. It's about a 5th year player, walk-on or scholarship, who toiled on the scout team for four years, giving every ounce of blood and sweat for the betterment of the team in the hope of someday getting to run down on a kickoff, or even play a snap or two at the end of a game. It's about late in the 4th quarter, tired and exhausted, but still finding the oomph to beat the man across from you. Will the 2012 Nebraska Cornhuskers sufficiently demonstrate this intangible ingredient?

This discussion should start with Bo Pelini. I don't know the man, so I could be way off base here, but Bo just seems like a scrapper. He probably wasn't the fastest or strongest, but he carved out a nice career in college as a Buckeye defensive back, including becoming a defensive captain. He rose quickly through the ranks of the NFL in a variety of roles, including as a position coach. He made a successful and rapid rise in the college ranks, as you are all probably familiar with. As well documented, he comes from a blue-collar, hard working town. As he continues to grow as a head coach, I think his grit-n-balls personality will benefit our program.

Like most discussions surrounding the 2012 Cornhuskers, we have to mention Rex Burkhead. If there ever were a person who personified ‘grit-n-balls', wouldn't Rex be at the top of the list? You can still have a wealth of talent and at the same time epitomize grit-n-balls. Is there anyone who thinks he wouldn't carve his own heart out with a spoon and leave it at the goal line still beating if it gave his team a chance to win? Yeah, I think Mr. Rex Burkhead displays grit-n-balls better than anyone.

And what about Seung Hoon Choi? Given the incredible odds he has conquered to get to his well-deserved starting position at left guard, I'd be hard pressed to find a better example of grit-n-balls.He didn't play football until well into his high school days. The language and cultural differences would be enough to sink lesser men. But all he did was walk-on to Nebraska , put in the time and hard work, and earned himself a scholarship this fall. I tried to focus on him during many of last year's games, and from my minimal exposure, Seung Hoon Choi is a very good offensive lineman, displaying the grit it takes to succeed in the trenches, and the balls it takes to accomplish what he's accomplished.

Obviously there are numerous other players and examples to draw on as it pertains to the 2012 Nebraska football team. The 2012 walk-on class has been heralded as the best in the Pelini era, encompassing players from small town Nebraska as well as Lincoln and Omaha . Can they push this team to success? When it's late in fall camp, legs tired, mentally exhausted, will this team find the grit-n-balls to push even harder? When it's late in a game and things haven't gone as well as planned, will this team find the grit-n-balls to come out on top?

I say yes. I think this is an ingredient for football success that Nebraska has in abundance. Although grit-n-balls is a difficult concept to describe and quantify, we will know it when we see it. WillNebraska display enough grit-n-balls to hoist a trophy in Indy on 12-1-2012?