LINCOLN — Roughly three months after he arrived at Nebraska, touted running back recruit Jordan Stevenson quit the Huskers’ football team Friday. A team spokesman told the media not long before Stevenson himself announced the decision on Twitter.
“With all (due) respect to the school and fans to Nebraska I wanna say thank you for everything but I will be pursuing a career elsewhere,” Stevenson’s tweet read. The former top 100 prospect did not immediately return a phone call from The World-Herald.
Another player, offensive tackle Matt Finnin, also quit the Husker team this week.
Stevenson seemed bound for a redshirt year after he arrived in Lincoln overweight and unfamiliar with the playbook. But coaches burned the redshirt of the freshman from Dallas so he could return kickoffs starting with the sixth game against Wisconsin.
Stevenson did not shine at the position, averaging 14.2 yards per return in games against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Northwestern. One return against Northwestern was brought back to the 9.
After that game, coach Mike Riley implicated the blocking more than Stevenson’s skill set, but Stevenson never returned another kickoff. He sat last week at Purdue. On Thursday, five days after the loss to the Boilermakers, Riley said Stevenson was sick and that he also wouldn’t return kickoffs against Michigan State. Instead, Stanley Morgan and Brandon Reilly will return kicks against the Spartans.
Riley said Thursday that he didn’t regret burning Stevenson’s redshirt.
“I think our intentions and his desires were good,” Riley said. “Only the future will tell.”
The future now resembles Stevenson’s near-past, as he will try to find a new school. Stevenson had to do the same this summer when his original choice, Wisconsin, denied him admission.
Shortly after, running backs coach Reggie Davis was told by other Husker coaches, including Riley, to reach out to Stevenson.
“When the head coach tells you to look at somebody, you look at them,” Davis told reporters in October. Stevenson’s highlight film stood out, Davis said.
After Wisconsin denied him entry, Stevenson picked NU over Miami and Alabama, among others. He came to camp appearing out of shape from a summer of inaction. Stevenson told reporters in mid-October he weighed 228 pounds at the start of camp. He hurt his ankle in camp and said he lost 22 pounds after that. He also told reporters he didn’t initially see eye-to-eye with Davis, but had changed his mind.
At some point, coaches talked to Stevenson’s parents and Stevenson about burning the redshirt, which he did to return kicks.
“My duty is helping this team on kickoff return,” Stevenson said in mid-October. “When the time comes, if God says it’s my time, then it’s my time. Until then, I’m just going to remain doing the things I need to do, remain focused, stay humble and keep my head held high.”
Stevenson never played a down at running back for NU.
Finnin was a sixth-year senior from Crete, Illinois, and a member of the 2013 recruiting class. He played sparingly over several seasons but saw significant action last year in the Iowa game and the Holiday Bowl against USC. He graduated in May with a history degree.
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