Neb's Westerkamp: Behind-the-back catch 'all luck'
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Somehow, some way, the football seems to land in the hands of Jordan Westerkamp.
Nebraska fans saw it last year when he plucked a Hail Mary pass out of the air to beat Northwestern.
They saw it again Saturday against Florida Atlantic with his behind-the-back catch along the sideline - a play that made him a star of the highlight shows and social media.
''It was all luck,'' the unassuming Westerkamp said.
Maybe, maybe not. Westerkamp's teammates have seen his knack for reeling in what would appear to be uncatchable balls many times on the practice field. But to a man they said they had never witnessed a catch like the one he made against FAU.
''My God,'' offensive lineman Mike Moudy said. ''I was blocking on the other side of the field and saw him get pushed out. I thought he didn't make it. The crowd went crazy. I turned around and looked at the big screen and, sure enough, he had. He has some sticky hands.''
Westerkamp emerged the second half of 2013 and is expected to play an expanded role this year after the departure of top receiver Quincy Enunwa.
He had career highs of seven catches for 125 yards against FAU. In the first quarter he ran freely through the Owls' secondary on a post pattern to score the second touchdown of his career on a 36-yard pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr.
Westerkamp's best catch, and the one everyone's talking about, was his last one.
The gravity of the situation was nothing compared with last year against Northwestern. The Wildcats were seconds away from winning a second straight time in Lincoln when Ron Kellogg launched his desperation, 49-yard heave. The ball was tipped near the goal line, Westerkamp went up to get it and landed with his feet just inside the end zone.
Saturday, the Huskers were up 24 points and on their way to a 55-7 win when Westerkamp lined up to run a corner route on a third-and-6 play. Armstrong threw a little late, and FAU's Christian Milstead dived to tip the ball. Westerkamp instinctively moved his outstretched hands from in front of him to behind his back as he approached the sideline. The ball floated into them.
''ESPN, right?'' said offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who joked that he drew up the play that way.
Westerkamp arrived at Nebraska as the Illinois high school record-holder for career receptions, yards and touchdowns, and Beck had big plans for him.
''He just makes plays,'' Beck said.
Westerkamp wouldn't answer when he was asked which one of his highlight catches was his favorite - the one against Northwestern or the one against FAU?
''I try to not look too much into that stuff,'' he said. ''It was a great team win. I just want to contribute as much as possible to the team for our success.''