In the quest to keep Nebraska’s JD Spielman from putting up big plays Saturday against a big play-beleaguered Ohio State defense, safety Jordan Fuller had some advice.
“I’d say he enjoys space, so don’t give it to him,” he said, laughing.
Fuller was speaking from experience.
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“Last year when we played them, I was playing nickel the whole first half,” he said, often finding himself matched against Spielman. “So I’m really familiar with him. He’s a really talented guy. He’s quick and fast. So we’ve definitely got to keep our eyes on him.”
Ohio State defeated Nebraska 56-14 last season in Lincoln and, really, the game wasn’t even that close. But Spielman — the son of Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and nephew of former Ohio State All-America linebacker Chris Spielman — put on a show.
He caught 11 passes for 200 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown catch. He also returned four kickoffs for another 60 yards. He was the only bright light that night for the Huskers.
Now under first-year coach Scott Frost, Spielman has flourished in the wide-open offense along with receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. Spielman leads the Huskers with 53 catches, for 686 yards and seven touchdowns. Morgan has 44 catches for 638 yards and five TDs, and the offense continues to improve with freshman Adrian Martinez at quarterback.
Spielman also has returned four punts for 99 yards, a 24.8-yard average, and returned eight kickoffs for a 21.1-yard average.
He does just about everything except talk to the media very much.
“JD doesn’t talk to us a whole lot, either,” Frost said a few weeks ago. “It’s funny with JD. Through spring, he was kind of hurt; through fall camp, he was a little tentative — maybe wasn’t our best practice player through fall camp — and I started to get a little concerned because I heard so many good things about JD.
“About two weeks before the first game, I think it clicked with him with our offense, and he just completely changed and started being dominant on the practice field. Boy, he has been a playmaker for us. Every time we call his number, he seems to figure out a way to get it done.”