LINCOLN — When your true freshman season peaks with a 10-yard catch in the opener, there's plenty of time to think about the uncertain future.
Quincy Enunwa remembers it quite well, when a momentary ego boost was replaced by the reality of adjusting to Division I football. He was on the bench for most of 2010 (with one reception), but Enunwa refused to let his mind enter a dark place.
“You don't ever want to think 'maybe I'm not cut out for this' after one year,” he said. “You always want to think 'I have three more years left. Let me go ahead and keep working.'”
Enunwa makes it sound simple because, since he can remember, he's approached the game with that relatively basic formula for success. No nonsense. Lots of effort.
He was second on last year's team with 42 catches and 470 receiving yards, and he was a leader in other ways.
“He is the model in our room, in terms of consistency, in terms of work ethic, in terms of preparation, in terms of leadership,” receivers coach Rich Fisher said in a speaking engagement earlier this month. “He comes to work every single day.”
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Enunwa says it's the competitive spirit that drives him. He's outworking everyone and discarding the short-range setbacks so he'll be the one celebrating in the end. That's how he sees it, anyway.
He dropped a pass in a 45-17 loss at Michigan two years ago, and he reacted as if he'd had a shot at snaring the game-winner. His response: He decided to devote weeks of his offseason to becoming more sure-handed.
Against Northwestern last year, Enunwa fell awkwardly on his shoulder in the third quarter — an injury that would require pregame medical attention for the rest of the season. But despite the pain, he returned in that game in Evanston, Ill., to help lead the Huskers to a 29-28 comeback win.
“I landed straight on it. I didn't even have anything to brace myself,” Enunwa said. “That was the first time where that even happened to me, where I was out and I went in and kept playing through it.”
That game was a confidence-building moment for Enunwa. He reinforced his win-first approach along the way.
“You never want to quit, you never want to fail. That's a big thing for me,” he said. “I don't like losing. I think that's the only way you can play football.”
It's the approach that's got him to this point, he believes.
Nebraska was the only major program to offer him a scholarship. Yet six months into his college career, after a frustrating debut, Enunwa wasn't rattled. He motivated himself then the same way as today.
“It's just working hard,” Enunwa said. “I realize all the guys who came before, what they did to get where they're at now.
“Don't get down on yourself. You know what you can do. You know (the coaches) will see what you can do. Just keep working.”