University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Mike Riley probably didn’t mean to put any undue pressure on redshirt sophomore walkon Wyatt Mazour by invoking Danny Woodhead’s name Saturday, but he certainly caught the attention of Husker fans.
While the comparison may have raised many eyebrows among Husker fans, Boone Central/Newman Grove faithful, along with the opponents Mazour bedeviled during an illustrious high school career, probably weren’t so surprised.
Riley’s comments came following a spring practice session, during which the 5-foot-9, 195-pound former Cardinal star caught observers’ attention on offense and in the kick return game.
One of the more dynamic quarterbacks in recent Nebraska high school football history, Mazour has appeared to make a move in NU’s spring practice as a running back. Reporters noted several nice moments Saturday, including one play when Mazour swept around left end and evaded several defenders.
After missing much of his 2016 redshirt freshman season recovering from a concussion, Riley said Mazour is in the competition to get more snaps at tailback. He added that Mazour may have joined the kickoff return team last season if he hadn’t been hurt.
“I was really pushing him forward. He’s got some stuff. He really does,” Riley told press. “If he can stay healthy and keep practicing, he will find a niche with this team. He will do some stuff. I’m excited about him.
“He’s a really versatile athlete. Tough. Extremely quick. One of those guys with a low center of gravity, who’s extremely hard to tackle and find. I think he’s a good football player. He’s Danny Woodhead.”
There it is, mention of the former North Platte and Chadron State star, who has followed up record-setting high school and college careers with long success in the NFL.
While Riley was certainly not predicting Mazour would match the numbers and accomplishments of Woodhead, the reference gives fans who may not be as familar with Mazour an idea of his talent.
As a high school senior, Mazour rushed for 1,632 yards and 25 touchdowns and passed for 1,863 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead Boone Central/Newman Grove to an undefeated season and Class C1 state championship.
While garnering numerous scholarship offers from lower division schools, Mazour followed his dream and walked on at Nebraska in 2015. That decision appears to be paying off, especially when the head coach notices your performance and offers praise.
Mazour and the Huskers will continue spring practice sessions through April 15, when the annual Red-White Spring Game will be held at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln (1 p.m.).