Walk-on from Iowa makes impact in Nebraska offense

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – College football walk-on stories don't get much better than the one born-and-raised Iowan Lane Hovey can tell.

Not one big-time college sniffed out the product of ADM (Adel) High School, who will play at 11 a.m. Friday at Kinnick Stadium wearing a red-and-white No. 13 Nebraska jersey.

How does one go from zero Football Bowl Subdivision interest to the two-deep of one of college football's most historic programs?

"That's a good question," Hovey said this week with a chuckle.

The January after helping ADM to the Class 3-A state semifinals, Hovey decided to throw a recruiting Hail Mary. He went to a buddy's house, assembled a highlight tape of himself, and sent the video to Iowa and Nebraska.

Amazingly, it worked.

"Iowa didn't have room on the roster," Hovey said. "Nebraska said go ahead and come on down."

Hovey got his foot in the Nebraska door as a walk-on. This season, he's busted through it. He caught his first three collegiate passes (for 48 yards) in the Cornhuskers' 55-19 win over Fresno State in September.

As you might expect from a successful walk-on story, Hovey chalks up his ascent to patience, faith and hard work — and opportunity.

"I wouldn't say it was anything outstanding I did in practice," said Hovey, 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. "Just being ready when my time came."

Hovey plays on special teams and has five catches for 69 yards. He made a 13-yard reception as Nebraska was trying to march for the winning touchdown in last week's 28-24 loss against Minnesota.

On Friday, the opportunity to shine might increase if star receiver Kenny Bell (concussion) is unable to play.

Regardless, Hovey will relish being in the stadium he grew up attending games in as a fan, this time as a player.

"It'll definitely be weird," he said.

His parents, Kent and Sondra, will be in Iowa City on Friday, too. Hovey described his mom's side of the family as die-hard Hawkeye fans. But ...

"It didn't take long for them to make the switch," Hovey said.

By the way, the Adel native is a straight-A student as well. (We told you this was a good story.)

Could this improbable tale end up with a scholarship offer, three years after a why-not video production?

"I haven't really heard about anything like that," Hovey said. "That's something any walk-on wants to work for and hopes happens. All I can do is take things a game at a time and see how things go."