In honor of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductees,
ASN will profile all 17 new members in advance of the Dec. 8 NFF awards dinner in New York City.
Trev Alberts perfectly blended his athletic and academic prowess at Nebraska, becoming the school’s career sacks leader and adding to the Cornhuskers’ all-time leading NFF National Scholar-Athlete total (now 22). About the only thing that Alberts didn’t do at Nebraska was win a national championship on the field, but he helped set the foundation for three of the Cornhuskers national titles after he graduated.
“Coach Osborne (Tom) did an incredible job communicating the value of our education,” said Alberts, an Academic All-American three of his four seasons in Lincoln. “He repeatedly showed us data that supported the impact of a college degree and the likelihood of greater lifelong earnings from an education than from a career of professional football. At Nebraska, our culture embraced educational excellence. It was cool to be a good student and a good athlete.”
Skeptical that Nebraska actually would want a player from the tiny high school (Northern University in Cedar Falls, Iowa), Trev and his father made assistant Nebraska coach John Melton show them some proof he was high on Osborne’s list. Growing up in Iowa, Trev and the Alberts family had been fans of such Hawkeye football stars as Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon, Marv Cook and Larry Station.
“Sure enough, there I was listed with an ‘A’ behind my name!” Alberts recalled of Nebraska’s rating classes of A-B-C. “I went to a very small school. We had 27 players on the team, 9-12th grade, so the thought of Nebraska recruiting off of our team was sort of unheard of.”
Alberts’ first season in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers finished third in the Big Eight in 1990, but then they won or shared three consecutive league titles during the final three years of Alberts’ four-year NU career.
“They put me in the position to make plays,” Alberts said. “We had a lot of great players on those defenses in the early 1990s. The outside-backer, rush-end positions required consistent play-making. I was blessed to be in one of those positions. I worked hard on my first step, being explosive off-the-ball. We were allowed to use our instincts and athleticism to make plays.”
Alberts became one of the top defensive players in all of college football. By his senior season, he was a unanimous First-Team All-America in 1993. He tied the Nebraska record for single-season sacks (15) as the Cornhuskers won 11 consecutive games and rose to No. 2 in the country. Going into the Orange Bowl against top-ranked Florida State, the Cornhuskers were 18-point underdogs, and Alberts was nursing a dislocated elbow. His dilemma was whether to risk further injury (and hurt his draft status) or to help Osborne win his first national title. He took the field, but the Cornhuskers fell just short in an 18-16 loss to the Seminoles.
“I was concerned what I wouldn’t be able to play to the level that I was accustomed to — given that I had a cast to protect my elbow that was dislocated in a game versus Oklahoma to end the regular season,” he said. “While my mobility was somewhat limited, I was able to have a good game.”
Alberts played three seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, which followed a career as a college and professional football network analyst. He currently serves as the athletics director at Nebraska-Omaha.