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HUSKER Q & A – Tony Veland: Facing John Elway, Lawrence Phillips, His Career And Thoughts On This Year’s Nebraska Team

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Veland gives us some info on his football career.

Tony Veland Broncos

Tony Veland, Safety

Omaha, Nebraska

STAT CHECK

  • 1994--Started 10 games and second on the team in interceptions on a National Champion Team
  • 1995--All-Big 8 and Captain of a National Championship Team
  • 1996--Drafted in the 6th round by Denver
  • 1997-- Super Bowl Champion with Denver

Impressions of the Huskers in 2019?

The season is not over but surprising so far. Especially when you consider where they left off last year and how well they played the second half of 2018. You were hoping they just continued it into this year.

It just re-enforces how tough it is to be good once you slip a bit. But some bright spots as well.

And what are some of those on defense?

Cam Taylor-Britt is a playmaker and that is really is something you can’t teach, being a ball-hawk. That knack for getting the ball out and a split-second instinct. He also plays fast even though he is a younger guy.

JoJo Domann is another guy who shows up on film. And more times than not he handles his assignment, besides the occasional big-play. Just need more of those guys right now for Nebraska.

Offensively?

Wan’Dale Robinson is a tough guy and he plays with a lot of heart. He isn’t the biggest guy on the field but his mentality is to be physical and impose his will, along with some pretty special gifts as a runner. You just hope that he is contagious to the other guys.

(Adrian) Martinez was really good last year and in spots this year, so you know he has the ability. Hopefully he finishes the year strong along with the rest of the offense.

Your recruitment back in the early 1990s?

I was really looking at Iowa State for engineering and maybe Colorado or Stanford. But I really had a good camp my junior year at NU and got an offer and sorta focused on Nebraska from then on but Iowa State was in the mix.

You were a stud high school QB at Benson, what position were they recruiting you at?

They recruited me as an athlete and left it open. I had a real good Shrine Bowl before college as a bit of an audition, so they started me out at quarterback.

Remember about those days going against the Blackshirts on the scout team in 1991?

It was rough, but I was a decent runner and was able to avoid taking too many big shots, but now and again the Blackshirts might get after you a bit.

Your scout team moment?

It wasn’t anything big and I can’t remember the exact week, but (defensive tackle) Kevin Ramaekers got a little extra in a few times after the whistle and I stood up to him and let know I wasn’t going to just take it. And I think they were OK with it as it showed I had a little heart and fight.

Moment in a game you felt you arrived a bit as a player?

Once I moved over to defense, maybe the Kick-Off Classic in 1994 versus West Virginia and I was backing up Mike Minter. I think early in the second half I got in, and on the first few plays I had some decent hits and tackles. I do remember one was near our sideline and everybody got pretty hyped on that!

And ya know in practice that fall I had done the same thing, and against probably better competition, but in the game IS in the game, so that was nice.

First impressions of Lawrence Phillips?

He was noteworthy from day one. We had heard about him but figured no big deal, we are the Blackshirts. But that first scrimmage he broke off a few runs and it was like OK, this guy is something else.

What made him so special?

He was just the complete package with a football-tough attitude as well.

He had speed, moves, vision, strength, catch the ball out of the backfield, run over you, run around you, you name it, that was L.P. Also, he could not be intimidated on the field by anybody on the defense no matter how hard or often you hit him.

You guys came up short versus FSU in 1993 for it all, anything stand out?

I remember we hadn’t played so well in bowl games prior to that year and maybe we deserved to be bigger underdogs. But in 1993 we had made some changes in our mentality and philosophy and just played and competed better and it showed in that Orange Bowl.

We lost on the scoreboard but maybe out-played them and it really set the tone for the next two years as we just exploded. (Nebraska went undefeated the next two years.)

Toughest WR at NU you faced?

I would have to say Abdul Muhammed. He was fast and quick and knew how to get open with sticky hands. A tough guy to cover and no doubt.

An eye-opening moment in practice or a game in the NFL?

No surprise but going against John Elway. The coaches told us to disguise things on defense constantly to maybe give him some work with different looks.

One day we went from a few zones to man in like 5 or 6 seconds and I remember him looking at me and just smiling and yelling, “That gonna work for you, Rook?”

And then he just threw a 20 yarder complete right where he wanted, no sweat.