LINCOLN — Mohamed Barry got a black practice jersey last year. He remembers watching teammates "almost faint" when they saw theirs entering the locker room.
But Monday's moment was far more meaningful to the Nebraska senior linebacker and many other members of the team's top defensive unit.
One by one after practice, former Blackshirts shared with current players what the black tops mean to them. Among the past NU standouts present were Chris Kelsay, Chad Kelsay, Jason Peter, Marc Munford, Tony Veland, Kenny Wilhite, Keyuo Craver, Zack Bowman, Jay Foreman, Steve Warren and Barrett Ruud.
Barry received his jersey from Ruud, his current position coach and Nebraska's all-time leading tackler.
"Now the shirt is not just a shirt," Barry said. "It comes to life. It's a real thing. It's a person who has worn it, has represented it, has put their all into that shirt, and he's giving it to you, and he's telling you you have to earn it every day — it meant a lot how they did it this year."
Barry is among 14 Huskers to become Blackshirts. Others are linemen Carlos Davis, Darrion Daniels, Khalil Davis and Ben Stille; outside linebackers Caleb Tannor and Alex Davis; inside 'backers Collin Miller and Will Honas; and defensive backs Lamar Jackson, Marquel Dismuke, Deontai Williams, Dicaprio Bootle and Cam Taylor.
Frost said the ceremony was a spur-of-the-moment idea, and coaches reached out to former players in the area. He singled out the testimony of his former teammate, Foreman, who said it's in his will that he will one day be buried with his Blackshirt.
"Their message to the team was spot on," Frost said. "It was an inspiring and neat scene after practice to see that happen."
Former defensive lineman Steve Warren took his 11-year-old son out of school so he could soak in the moment, which took place right after practice on the field in front of the entire team. By coincidence, Warren handed No. 96 — his former number — to starter Carlos Davis.
Warren said each former player spoke for 10-20 seconds. Warren reminded current Huskers they have the privilege of competing for more than themselves.
"That was my message to them was take advantage of that opportunity," Warren said. "Because it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to be a part of something that's bigger than you."
Daniels, a grad transfer from Oklahoma State who was voted a team captain over the weekend, said he learned more about the defense's standard of excellence from the exchange than he would have if a garment had just been hanging in his locker.
"It matters that much to them just seeing them come back and to want to spend time out of their day to want to talk to us," Daniels said. "And, in a way, pass the torch and to hold us to the standard of the Blackshirt."