Todd Honas is embracing role as special teamer

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Looking back, part of what brought Nebraska’s football program out of relative obscurity to national dominance in the 1960s and beyond was the walk-on program founded by legendary Husker coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne.
Former Aurora all-state receiver Todd Honas hopes that history is about ready to repeat itself. The junior walk-on wanted to talk more about his role on special teams and also in helping teach younger players the ins and outs of head coach Scott Frost’s offense, instead of his team-leading three catches Saturday afternoon as part of the Red team in the annual spring game played before nearly 86,000 die-hard fans.
Pretty impressive.
Todd’s three receptions were for a total of 39 yards with a long of 20 yards, all coming from quarterback Noah Vedral. Former high school teammate and starting tight end Austin Allen also had a busy day for the Reds. The two were often in the game at the same time either on offense or lined up at times nearly side by side on special teams.
Todd said it was good just to get out there and play in a game once again following the 2018 season.
“It’s good. It’s always good to get out there,” he noted. “This is my third spring game. It’s always fun to be out there in Memorial Stadium, and it’s always something that you cherish.”
Todd’s first catch came just before the second quarter ended, from the 40 to the 40, and his second came just seconds later for 17 yards. His third reception was a swing pass from Vedral to the right sideline, Todd having to push one defender off behind the line of scrimmage just to get a two-yard gain.
“None of them were designed for me, I just got open,” he said. “Honestly, it’s just running as fast as you can. That’s all I did.
“It just comes from practice. This year was different in a lot of ways, how coach Frost prepared us. I wasn’t nervous at all. Last year maybe more so. My first year everybody was learning it. We’re all more established. Oz is more comfortable, too, so I hope the fans think it looks a lot smoother now.”

Special teams role
Despite those receptions, the former Aurora star said he realizes his place moving forward will be to contribute on the punt and kickoff teams, whenever and where ever needed as his receiver room is getting and will continue to get more crowded as time moves on.
“Special teams, that’s my thing. I love it. I think so far I have no problem saying that’s my role on this team. I’m a special teams guy. I embrace that. A lot of kids in this state would do whatever it takes to play for this team. For me, it’s maybe not being a star player, but special teams is what I take pride in.”
He went on to say that last year was more about learning Frost’s system and getting himself ready to compete at the highest level possible. He said this time around, now that he’s more of a veteran player so to speak heading into his junior season, knowing the entire offense, that it’s his role now to help the younger guys out.
“Jamie Nance (a true freshman speedster from Oklahoma who arrived in January) was one of them,” Todd mentioned. “Jamie and just anybody coming in. Coach Frost preaches all the time to care more about the team than yourself. It’s something I focus on more this year, in the weight room, off the field. Just bringing this team together. All of us collectively are going for one goal, which is a Big Ten championship.”
Todd told me that Husker players as a whole are getting more used to the system now in place, and that the team is maturing and has leaders like Damion Jackson along with mammoth Oklahoma State transfer nose guard Darrion Daniels.
“Darrion’s a grown man out there,” Todd said. “We have guys like that who are stepping into those roles. Adrian (Martinez), we can lean on him a little bit more, but it helps that we’re all more established, more mature in this offense and a team as a whole.
“We have capable guys in our receiver room. Stan’s (Stanley Morgan) not here any more so we don’t have a star player so to speak, but I think if we keep progressing we have a lot of capable guys. We really have to be on our step every single day.”
Todd (and Austin) once again were named and recognized prior to kickoff as being on the 22nd annual 2019 Brook Berringer team, which includes a total of 76 Husker players in all. He said that the team has added significance for him because his whole family is from western Kansas, his dad going to school in Goodland, home of the Berringer family.
“I just talked to Brook’s sister on Friday and we talked about how he was and how he acted. Today we had our devotion and coach Osborne talked about one guy, Brook Berringer. It’s just humbling.”
Now that the spring game is over, thoughts right away turn to summer conditioning and looking ahead to fall camp.
Todd told me that means the weight room will once again be front and center.
“The infamous, notorious circuit,” he laughed. “It’s in that room right there. Everybody dies in there but we’ll go through that again this summer. Coach (Zach) Duval will get us ready. We just have to physically keep getting more mature and established and familiar with coach’s program.
“This spring has been a big stepping stone, but once we get everyone healthy and some new pieces, we’ll be dangerous.”
One of those players who is nearly back from a severe knee injury (suffered last season against Purdue) is Todd’s cousin, Will Honas, originally from Wichita by way of Butler Community College. ESPN and 247Sports both had him ranked as the top junior college inside linebacker a year ago, and he received more than a dozen scholarship offers, choosing Nebraska over the likes of Arkansas, Iowa and Kansas State.
“He’s been practicing more and more,” Todd said. “Today he could have played but they (the coaches) wanted to keep him safe. He’s actually gotten quite a bit bigger. I’m excited for him. It’ll be him, Colin (Miller) and Mo (Barry) in the middle. Will’s ready to go.”
Finally, with just two more seasons remaining, Todd reflected back on being a Husker.
“I have no regrets about coming here. Coach Frost is really the guy. Individually, I can’t say much at this point. What I want to accomplish doesn’t have to do with me. But one of my goals is I want to play in that Big Ten Championship. That would be a big step for  us.”
Husker fans would certainly agree.

DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net.

 

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