Former Husky Todd Honas set to walk away from the game he loves

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Husker senior cornerback Jeramiah Stovall collapsed onto his back on the north end zone goal line as time expired, the same exact time Iowa players rushed to grab the Hero’s Trophy, because the Hawkeyes did it again, kicking a last-second field goal for the second year in a row to beat Nebraska, ending any chance at a bowl for three seasons running.
Iowa’s win in Lincoln on a cold, raw and wet day was indeed the final knockout blow to another disappointing season, winning just five games. For former Husky all-state wide receiver and current Husker Todd Honas, the number five is painful enough, but nothing like his fifth concussion he suffered on Oct. 16 when a teammate blindsided him during practice, knocking him out of his football career, ending his playing days as he smartly protects his health for the long run.
So as Iowa kicker Keith Duncan blew kisses towards the Husker bench with one second on the clock, Todd, dressed in street clothes, could only watch like all of Husker Nation.
 “My first one (concussion) was my freshman year,” Todd told me after the game. “I was pretty clean for a year and a half, but I’ve had five in 3-1/2 years. I was planning on coming back but our team doctor said I might want to think about it. I talked to our neurosurgeon and our team psychologist, and they all said it’s probably best.
“Northwestern was the last game I suited up. Two weeks after that is when I decided (to give up football).”
Todd is currently still in concussion protocol, sitting in a dark room for treatment and dealing with different affects from the brain being jarred.
“It’s tough. The biggest thing is my memory,” he pointed out. “It’s hard to sleep. Every one of them (concussions) is different. They all affect you in different ways. I still get really bad migraines just being in the stadium. The noise, the light when they do that flickering. It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for awhile.”
He said he had an emotional conversation with coach Scott Frost about his situation not long ago.
“He told me a story of a guy from Oregon. He went through three concussions and he said that this guy got to the point where his fingers were always shaking. I don’t know if he was trying to talk me out of it (playing) but that’s how that went.
“It’s devastating. It was very emotional. It was a very hard week for me.”
Todd told me his fondest memories from his time as a Husker are last year’s Minnesota and Iowa games, but he said just being a part of this program is what he’ll remember most.
“The weird thing is that my best memories are off the field. I remember the plane rides, being on the bus, being at the hotel before the game. The games come and go, but now I’ve got 200 or 300 new friends.”
He said playing for the Huskers, especially with his hearing impairment, will hopefully inspire other kids to do the same.
“I’m glad I went through it in the end, to chase your dreams and to get a letter as well,” he mentioned. “Being from small-town Aurora meant the world to me. A lot of times when I was practicing, the things that kept me going was being from Aurora. I didn’t do it for the people here. I didn’t do it for anybody in Lincoln. It was because I was from Aurora. That’s what kept me going.”
He told me that he’s proud of fellow Auroran Austin Allen as well, noting the sophomore tight end has come a long ways on his journey to become co-number one tight end.
“He just serves other people so well. I’m so proud of him because I remember he didn’t even know if he was going to play college football. He took this on and he comes to work every single day. It was an honor being his teammate the last six or seven years.”
Todd said he remembers first playing the game of football in seventh grade, and the challenge it was dealing with his hearing aids in.
“I was trying to figure out how to play in the first place,” he laughed, “and then I couldn’t get my hearing aids to stay in. I would try to tape them. My mom even cut panty hose. I would try to put them over my head. I had to do a lot of different things to be able to play, and it got better and better, but what really made me love the game of football was coach (Randy) Huebert, the way he ran his program. I remember looking up to him and then when I got to play for him, it was incredible. I had great teammates as well, but that was where the love started, in seventh grade.”
As for this Iowa game, Todd was disappointed with the loss, disappointed in not being able to get to a bowl game like all the rest of us, yet proud of the way his guys battled and fought to the very end.
“We ran the ball really well. I was proud of the way we fought, but it’s devastating. It’s the same story just a different chapter, but I’m proud of the guys.”
Todd also said he’s been staying busy doing service events, such as Hands and Voices, having an event in October that drew the biggest crowd they’ve had in 20 or 30 years. And he’ll do more things like that until he graduates this May, then possibly pursuing a career in coaching.
“This is all so sudden,” he added about ending his playing career. “I was planning on this happening next year.”
As for Stovall, he was still laying on Tom Osborne field two or three minutes after the final gun. As I walked back past him from the northwest corner of the field, I knelt down, tapped him on the helmet, telling him good game, hoping that might inspire him to get up to join his teammates in the locker room.
And that’s what next year’s Huskers are going to have to do. They’re going to have to get up off the mat and fight.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at

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