The noise, the cold, the passion, the defense — Myles Farmer loved every bit of it.
Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2019 recruiting class even loved the snow. The defensive back from Atlanta (Westlake) especially loved that as he took in NU’s 9-6 win over Michigan State on Saturday.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Farmer, a 6-foot-3, 192-pound safety. “I’ve seen snow before, but not like that. Not like a blizzard.”
So after the Huskers had wrapped up the win, coach Scott Frost asked Farmer how long he might take to make a final decision.
Right now, Farmer said. He’d received the blessing from his parents to commit. So he did.
Frost and defensive backs coach Travis Fisher got big smiles. They landed their third rangy defensive back for 2019. Farmer, meanwhile, concluded a whirlwind courtship with NU that he said began halfway through his senior season when his high school coach Kareem Reid told him Nebraska liked his film and wanted to offer a scholarship.
Thus, the three-star prospect zeroed in on NU over interest from West Virginia, South Florida and Michigan State, among others. Farmer said he’s willing to play any position in the secondary, but Nebraska wants him at safety.
“I like to be the quarterback of the defense,” Farmer said. He also liked what he saw out of Husker safety Antonio Reed Saturday. Farmer rattled off all of Reed’s stats from the game as proof.
Farmer becomes the third Atlanta-area commit in the class, joining North Gwinnett safety Quinton Newsome and Loganville Grayson running back Ronald Thompkins, who also visited Saturday.
Farmer is the third rangy DB in the class, too. Newsome is 6-2. Arizona (Hamilton Chandler High) cornerback Javin Wright is 6-3. Freshman Husker corner Braxton Clark is 6-3. So is freshman Husker safety C.J. Smith.
With the 21st commit in the class, Nebraska moved to the No. 21 recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports and the No. 4 class in the Big Ten.
Farmer intends to enroll in the summer.
One player who’s seen more of Farmer than anyone lately is Westlake teammate and free safety Emmanuel McQueen, who started opposite the strong safety and Husker commit all season. When Farmer plays curl flats and jet sweeps, the fellow senior was rarely needed to back up the play. Once, when an opposing team tried to run a screen, Farmer flew through the blocks and blew it up with such ferocity that McQueen found himself spectating for just a moment.
“He knocked the boy out,” McQueen said. “I had to jump on the ball real quick — it shocked me.”
Farmer — also known in the community as a talented baseball player and freestyle rapper — played quarterback and tight end in eighth grade, McQueen said, then moved to linebacker as a freshman before settling at defensive back as a junior. He has a “huge” frame for the position and is at his best on blitzes.
“Physicality is his game,” McQueen said. “He ain’t the fastest guy, but he can make somebody cry real quick. He’s that physical; he’s that dude.”
Barret Pickering got off on the wrong foot. Now the kicker from Alabama can’t miss
LINCOLN — Barret Pickering stood outside Ryan Field, his hands jammed in black gym shorts, and stared at his flip-flops.
The worst kicking year of his life was getting worse.
That day in Evanston, Illinois, he missed a 45-yarder. Hit the upright. Didn’t play the wind well at all, he said. He missed an extra point, too. Sailed that one wide.
Pickering could feel the trust being sucked away from coaches. That was apparent when coach Scott Frost was looking to go for it on fourth down on the opponent’s side of the 50 rather than let him kick.
“Just didn’t get the job done and kind of hurt our team because I didn’t get it done out there,” Pickering said, leaning against bleachers. “I’m hitting the ball fine during the week, I’m just coming out here and just didn’t get it done today. It’s not acceptable for the way I played today.”
Pickering thanked the media for its time, then walked through the gate of the stadium with his head down. He got on the bus and was headed home.
Since leaving Ryan Field that day, the true freshman hasn’t missed.
Not from 32 yards against Minnesota, not from 29 yards against Bethune-Cookman, not from 18 yards to pull Nebraska within a score at Ohio State in the fourth quarter. And not from 36, or 20, or 47 against Michigan State on a snowy afternoon in Lincoln on Saturday. The Alabama native had never kicked a football in the snow.
“Definitely just trusting what I do and having fun out there,” Pickering said postgame, this time at a podium and this time with a grin. “Just believing in myself.”
Pickering is the story of this year’s team in a lot of ways. He was a Mike Riley commit, heralded as a top recruit in his position. When the new staff came in, he was re-evaluated and wasn’t given the starting position until midway through fall camp.
In the first five games, he struggled with the rest of the team. Missed his first field goal from 44 yards against Colorado. Missed another in the Troy game, a bad one from 33 yards. As he walked off the field, Frost walked over to him on the sideline.
“Barret,” he called out. “Gotta make that.”
He missed again against Purdue. Then there was the Northwestern game. Nebraska fell to 0-6. Pickering was last in the conference in field goal percentage (55 percent).
Then, for whatever reason, he began to roll. Nebraska strung together a few wins. That led to Saturday.
He made his first from 36, and that felt good. Then another from 20, when the snow was really starting to fall, and that was easy. When Nebraska was in striking distance again, the decision for Frost was easy.
“Barret hitting those two field goals, I had enough confidence in him at that point to let him go out and try a long one,” Frost said.
He and holder Isaac Armstrong ran out and dusted snow off the right hash mark of the 31-yard line. Tight end Jack Stoll lined up on the right. Jerald Foster in the middle next to Tanner Farmer. All three had confidence in their kicker.
The snap was good, the hold was good and Pickering pointed the ball left and high. Squinting through the snow, the kicker watched the ball bend right and hit the net.
Then he was walloped. Farmer slapped his helmet and hugged him hard.
“I was hoping I didn’t hurt him,” Farmer said.
The 80,000 in attendance shook the press box. On the sideline, linebacker Mohamed Barry and the rest of the team spilled out onto the field.
Foster picked Pickering up and put the 6-foot, 195-pound freshman on his shoulder, carrying him toward the sideline of screams.
“Jerald! Jerald!” Pickering yelled. “I gotta go kick the kickoff.”
Foster put him down and slapped his helmet.
“Go do your thing, little man,” Foster said.
In the postgame press conference, Pickering thanked Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler — the two punters who were killed in a July 2016 car accident — for inspiring him. And when he left the podium, he got fist-bumps from teammates all the way back to the locker room.
“Everyone wishes for an Adam Vinatieri moment,” Barry said. “He got his today.”
Nebraska at Iowa
When: 11 a.m. Friday (6 a.m. Pregame)
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Radio: 103.1 FM