When the Nebraska medical staff told receivers coach Rich Fisher that Quincy Enunwa was done midway through the second half at Northwestern last week, the assessment made complete sense.
Enunwa was by himself on the bench without his pads on in the third quarter, the tears starting to drip down his cheeks. He wanted to help his team, but his shoulder hurt.
Fisher had to move on. He figured Enunwa wasn't coming back.
“The next thing I know, about two or three series later, we were on the sideline, getting ready to go in and there he is, buckling up his chin strap,” Fisher told about 250 Husker fans at the Big Red Breakfast Friday.
Enunwa's toughness was among the topics covered by Fisher as he broke down game film and answered questions at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center. He rarely skipped a chance to provide insight into the development of someone within his position group.
Sophomore Kenny Bell runs better after the catch now. Jamal Turner is gaining Fisher's trust by listening and applying suggestions. Taariq Allen's worked hard, despite few opportunities behind Enunwa. And Steven Osborne's made a considerable jump in two years.
And then there's Enunwa, who caught one pass and probably had 25 snaps as a true freshman in 2010, Fisher said.
The junior from Moreno Valley, Calif., is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. Sort of looks like a linebacker. Fisher told the crowd Friday that he saw Enunwa for the first time last year and said, “ 'I think the linebacker room's down the hall there, buddy.' ”
Fisher addresses Enunwa a bit differently these days.
“You guys heard of Megatron, the wide receiver for Detroit? OK, well I call Quincy 'Mini-tron,'” Fisher said.
Mini-tron might have experienced the turning point of his career in Evanston, Ill., last weekend, according to Fisher.
Instead of remaining sidelined, Enunwa returned to the game and caught four passes on NU's final two scoring drives, helping the Huskers earn a 29-28 comeback win. His second grab — and leaping 30-yard catch over the middle to set up a first and goal — was the exact play he'd been injured on.
|BIG RED TODAY ON FACEBOOK|
|Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.|
“That is mental toughness to me,” Fisher said.
In the third quarter, Enunwa left the ground to try to corral a long pass from Taylor Martinez, but landed awkwardly and dropped the football.
He was in pain from that point forward. But Enunwa managed to clear a mental hurdle and play.
“He basically went out there in the fourth quarter and put the team on his back,” Fisher said.
He's the team's second-leading receiver, at 23 catches, and a clear favorite of Martinez's when the NU quarterback needs a pass completion.
Enunwa wasn't limited in practice this week as he and the Huskers prepare for Michigan.
Other notes and tidbits provided by Fisher:
>> Nebraska's wide receivers have 77 receptions and six dropped passes this year, a ratio comparable to the numbers of a top-tier pass-catcher in the NFL. Fisher did the research over the summer. He said the NFL's best receivers haul in about 93 percent of passes that hit their hands. The Husker receivers are at 92.7 percent this year. That percentage was 77.6 last year, according to a World-Herald analysis.
>> Wide receiver recruits are paying attention to the transformation of Nebraska's offense. The Huskers, 99th nationally in total offense in 2009, are averaging 512.4 yards per game, 12th-best in the nation. Said Fisher: “(We've) had a number of kids that have warmed up to (NU), and actually have been on campus, because of what they've seen on TV.”
>> As an offensive coach, Fisher gets a firsthand look every day at standouts on the scout team defense. He mentioned true freshman linebackers Thomas Brown and Michael Rose as guys who've shown flashes. Same for 320-pound freshman defensive tackle Vincent Valentine. “When he gets mad, when he gets raging, he becomes almost unblockable,” Fisher said.
Contact the writer: