David Santos wanted to pass on redshirting his first season at Nebraska and play right away. His coaches, intrigued by his speed and tenacity, were tempted to relent and put him on the field.
The patience paid off.
Santos soaked up all he could from being around older teammates and spent extra time in the film room. When he stepped on the field against Michigan last Saturday, he didn't look like an ordinary first-time starter.
Santos made 10 tackles, including one for a loss, in the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers' 23-9 victory. Monday he was chosen one of the Big Ten's co-freshmen of the week.
''He can run, he's explosive, he can play in the open field and do some good things,'' coach Bo Pelini said. ''Now he's at a point where he's not going to hurt us. He's really helping us and doing some good things. He's nowhere near where I think he'll be in the future, but he's getting better.''
Pelini's defensive system is not easy for young players to grasp, and Santos had to put in his time....