It Was All Academic

Prop 48 Players Were Major Contributors on NU’s 1995 Team

Story by Shane G. Gilster

It’s safe to say Nebraska will benefit this upcoming season from the NCAA’s transfer portal and name, image and likeness policies. But in the 1990s, it was a regulation known as Proposition 48 that enabled Nebraska to bring in players who, otherwise, probably would not have been Huskers.

Christian Peter Jonathan Daniel Getty Images scaled e1653513662265
9 Sep 1995: Christian Peter of the Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on during a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Nebraska won the game, 50-10. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

Nebraska built some of its best teams with the help of Proposition 48, which enabled it to enroll players who were partial or non-qualifiers academically.

Husker stars such as cornerback Michael Booker, defensive tackle Christian Peter, cornerback Tyrone Williams, receiver Reggie Baul and defensive end Jared Tomich all started for the Huskers during the 1995 championship season. All were “Prop 48s.”

At the time, partial qualifiers were prospective athletes who met only one of two minimum academic requirements – grade point average or standardized test score. The minimums were a 2.0 GPA with a 900 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT or a 2.5 GPA with a 700 SAT or 17 ACT. A non-qualifier met neither standard. If a school accepted a partial or non-qualifier, the athlete was ineligible for athletics for one year.

The NCAA enacted Proposition 48 in January 1986, which allowed schools to enroll partial or non-qualifiers, and Nebraska took advantage, bringing in players who spent a year not playing but getting their grades in order. Many would then be eligible to play. But on Dec. 20, 1995, the Big 12 presidents voted unanimously to limit each school to four partial qualifiers per year (two men, two women) and no more than one in a single sport. That effectively ended the Husker success with a high number of Prop 48 players.

Some say minimizing Prop 48 numbers was one of the main reasons Nebraska’s championship streak ended. That reasoning has some merit considering the five Prop 48 starters on the 1995 squad thought by many to be the greatest college football team of all time.

Tomich was a first-team All-American who led the team with 10 sacks. Peter, a first-team All-Big Eight pick, led the defensive line in tackles. Williams was a first-team All-Big Eight selection, and Booker was the team-leader in interceptions and the player-of-the game in the Fiesta bowl against Florida.

Jared Tomich, from Indiana, was a first-team All-American at defensive end.
Jared Tomich, from Indiana, was a first-team All-American at defensive end.

Other prominent Prop 48s on that team were outside linebacker Jamel Williams, who was the third-leading tackler; Eric Warfield, a backup safety; and running back Clinton Childs, who started one game at I-back and was the fourth-leading rusher and top kickoff returner.

In all, Nebraska had 12 partial and non-qualifiers on the 1995 roster. A coach from another high-profile team at the time commented: “Among elite schools, Nebraska is a true haven for partial and non-qualifiers.

That coach wouldn’t get any argument from Childs.

“I think Nebraska knew how to use Prop 48 players more than other teams,” Childs said. “For the state of Indiana to lose a player like Jared Tomich and the state of Florida to lose Tyrone Williams was crazy. It is a credit to the University of Nebraska because we had very successful Prop 48 players that played key roles on the team.”

Clinton Childs, out of Omaha North, was Nebraska’s fourth-leading rusher and top kickoff returner in 1995.
Clinton Childs, out of Omaha North, was Nebraska’s fourth-leading rusher and top kickoff returner in 1995.

Childs was a highly recruited running back out of Omaha North and could have gone most anywhere in the country if he had fully qualified academically.

“I got recruited by everyone in the Big Eight except Oklahoma,” Childs said. “My top choices were Kansas and Kansas State, but I also liked Miami, and when I didn’t qualify, Miami offered James Stewart who later became their starting running back.”

Childs had the necessary grade point average but was short on his ACT score. Nebraska offered a scholarship and he was part of the 1992 recruiting class but since he wasn’t going to qualify academically, he had to decide between junior college or take the Prop 48 offer from NU and sit out from competition for a year.

“The junior college route wasn’t as glorified as it is today,” Childs said. “It didn’t appeal to me to go junior college and then go to Nebraska. Knowing that you had a full ride at Nebraska after your first year just seemed like the best route to go.”

Once he arrived on campus, Childs felt like part of the team, even though he could not play. He had workouts, study table and meal plans that were the same as the rest of the team.

“The way it was constructed for Prop 48 guys made it seem like you weren’t missing a whole lot of stuff,” Childs said. “We had access to numerous things. We just couldn’t practice, suit up and play with the team on game days.”

Reggie Baul, out of Papillion-La Vista, was second on the team in receiving yards in 1995.
Reggie Baul, out of Papillion-La Vista, was second on the team in receiving yards in 1995.

It was Nebraska’s academic support that was monumental in helping Childs make the grades and become eligible after his first year. He said he specifically remembered working with a woman named Pat Engelhardt. “She was a phenomenal person,” he said.

Like Childs, Baul, from Papillion-La Vista, was another Prop 48 player who flourished in Nebraska’s system during that time. And like Childs, he had plans to go out of state to play college ball, if not for his grades.

“Nebraska offered me a scholarship but I told them no because I was going to go to Colorado State,” Baul said. “Their head coach was Earl Bruce and he sold their school. They passed the ball because they were in a pass-friendly conference.”

Baul signed a letter of intent with CSU but he didn’t make the grades and fell under Proposition 48. The school released him from that commitment.

“I didn’t have issues with the ACT score, but there were some core classes I didn’t know I needed. But coach Osborne and Nebraska kept in contact with me, even after I committed to Colorado State,” Baul said. “They were accepting Prop 48 players and asked me to be a walk-on with a chance to earn a scholarship.”

After sitting out the 1991 season, Baul earned his scholarship the following year due to good grades and a fast 40-yard dash time (4.4). He also performed well in practices. He didn’t play in 1992 as NU decided to redshirt him. He became the Huskers’ second-leading receiver in 1995 and a second-team All-Big Eight pick as a punt returner.

Warfield, who was from Texarkana, Arkansas, wasn’t a starter but played in every game in 1995. Like Childs and Baul, he could have gone to a lot of places if he had qualified academically. His top schools during the recruiting process were Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, but after he found out his ACT score was not high enough, a Prop 48 offer from NU was his best choice.

“The year I sat out, I made the necessary grades with ease,” Warfield said. “I played basketball and got to know the guys on my dorm floor and on the team. I was there to get an education and to play football and ease my way into adulthood and develop independence. I was accepted into an environment I didn’t grow up in and learned how to adapt.”

Would Nebraska have won the 1995 national championship if there wasn’t Proposition 48? That debate is hypothetical. It is possible NU still might have gotten some of those players eventually after they qualified academically.

The bottom line was Proposition 48 benefited NU and the players who fell under its guidelines. It gave high school athletes like Childs a chance to prove themselves after being denied – sometimes by a single test score.

“Probably 80% to 90% of people don’t even utilize stuff from those ACT and SAT tests, and those (tests) don’t determine if you can be successful in college,” Childs said. “You have tests made up by a bunch of people who probably have no idea the impact it has on kids’ lives.”

Yes, Nebraska won championships with Prop 48 players, but as time has gone on, perhaps it’s more important that a lot of good football players also received elite academic support and ultimately received degrees.

Either way, it’s a good legacy.

It’s the Size of the Fight In the Dog

Barron Miles Had the Heart and Desire to Succeed

By Shane G. Gilster

When it comes to describing Barron Miles, a Mark Twain quote comes to mind. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Barron Miles was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and was a sixth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a long career with the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.
Barron Miles was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and was a sixth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a long career with the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.

Miles wasn’t your prototype defensive back at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, but he was able to play at the highest level in college and professionally because of his desire to succeed.

“Barron was one of the most confident guys I have ever been around,” said former NU linebacker Troy Dumas. “He was so confident to the point that it could be offending sometimes because he wanted to be the best at everything on and off the field. He was super aggressive and played every play 100 miles per hour.”

Miles not only had to overcome perceived physical limitations, but also academic issues that threatened his eligibility to play college football.

Miles was a talented option quarterback and safety for Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, New Jersey. “I prided myself playing multiple positions on the football field,” he said. “As long as you put me there, I could play it.”

Miles’ top schools were Syracuse, Kansas, Northwestern and the University of Massachusetts because they were recruiting him as a quarterback.

“My ultimate school was Oklahoma because I loved watching their quarterback Jamelle Holieway run the option,” Miles said. “But my brothers loved Nebraska and Turner Gill, so we would watch the Nebraska-Oklahoma game all the time.”

Schools backed off once Miles’ academic scores were known. But Nebraska maintained contact and told Miles about their Prop 48 program, which took partial qualifies and gave them a chance to make the team.

“They said I needed a GPA of 2.0 and maintained that through the whole year and after that I could go on scholarship,” Miles said. “Nebraska’s Prop 48 program allowed me to prove that I could maintain a GPA well enough to stay in school and participate in sports.”

Miles was the CFL East Division Rookie of the Year and played seven seasons in Montreal. He is still a coach with the Alouettes.
Miles was the CFL East Division Rookie of the Year and played seven seasons in Montreal. He is still a coach with the Alouettes.

During the 1991 fall and 1992 spring semesters at NU, Miles proved himself in the classroom and to his future teammates and coaches. He stayed on task because his main goal was to get his grades right to be eligible to play football when it was time.

“The year I sat out, I was a pest,” said Miles, who couldn’t participate with the team during practices. “I did everything possible to try and get on the field but would get kicked off. I would watch the guys on the field and then off on the side; I would try and do the same things. I also hit the weight room hard and got stronger.

“I would also play other sports like basketball to showcase my quickness, speed and athleticism. I wanted to show the rest of the team that I was a player and I would be ready to play the next year.”

When fall practice kicked off for the 1992 season, Miles was ready for action. The NU coaches put him at cornerback and he quickly rose up the depth chart becoming a backup to senior Kenny Wilhite at left corner and played in every game that year.

“I trusted the coaches at the University of Nebraska and that was all I needed,” Miles said. “It was an honor for me to be able to go in and sub for players like Kenny Wilhite. The upperclassmen were OK with it as long as we were successful and continued to grow as a team.”

Miles’ influence on the team also grew on special teams. He was the backup punter in 1993 and served as a kickoff returner. But his biggest impact was blocking kicks.

“I remember one day in practice coach (Tony) Samuel asked if anyone could block a kick,” Miles said. “I was catching punts at the time but I ran up to coach Samuel and said I could block punts all day. So, he said, ‘Go ahead, let’s see what you got.’ I lined up on the next play, blocked the punt and that was history.”

Dumas remembers Miles’ impact. “He took the special teams thing and ran with it,” Dumas said. “He made playing special teams cool because a lot of guys were reluctant to play it. He was intense coming off the corner trying to block kicks.”

Today, Miles is the defensive coordinator of the Montreal Alouettes.
Premier match de la saison 2021 des Alouettes de Montreal au Stade Percival Molson le 27 Aout 2021. Photo: Dominick Gravel / Alouettes de Montreal

Miles would block three kicks that season, including a field goal attempt by North Texas, and punts against Oklahoma State and Iowa State. His blocked punt against the Cowboys, which he landed on for a touchdown, was the CNN/ESPN Play-of-the-Week. Also in that game, he added a career high eight tackles and one breakup to become the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week and the ESPN Player of the Game.

In the 1994 NU media guide, Miles said, “Special teams keeps me motivated. If I have a good play on special teams, it gets me more pumped up to play my normal position (left corner).”

In his first year as a full-time starter in 1993, Miles earned first-team All-Big Eight honors by the conference coaches. He was sixth on the team in tackles with 50 stops, five breakups and an interception. Against UCLA that season, Miles had to match up against J.J. Stokes, the Bruins’ 6-4 All-American receiver. The 5-8 Miles held Stokes to six catches for 65 yards and no touchdowns. He finished the game with seven tackles and two breakups.

“My height gave me an advantage because opposing receivers took me lightly,” Miles said. “I took every challenge to heart and knew my capabilities. I could time the football in the air and had good hand/eye coordination. I trusted in myself and that’s all that mattered. When I knew I was going against a good receiver in a game like a Michael Westbrook (Colorado) or J.J. Stokes, I was geared up. I was on top of my game and didn’t falter.”

Miles was one of the main reasons the Huskers won the national championship in 1994. He earned third-team All-America honors from The Associated Press and was first-team All-Big Eight at cornerback. He also won the New Jersey Sports Writers Association College Defensive Back-of-the-Year award with 13 breakups and five interceptions.

He recorded a school-record six pass breakups against Kansas State and was named the player of the week by the Big Eight, ABC/Chevrolet and Athlon. After the game, NU coach Tom Osborne said, “I though Barron made some great plays out there. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”

Miles also continued his special teams prowess that season, once again serving as the team’s backup punter and blocking four kicks as an edge rusher.

In the final game against Oklahoma, Miles blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by OU, helping preserve a 13-3 win for the Huskers. It was a school-record fourth blocked kick and seventh of his career (five punts and two field goals).

In the 1995 Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes, Miles had 12 total tackles and broke up three passes in Nebraska’s 24-17 win.

“He rose to the challenge when playing taller receivers,” Dumas said. “Against Miami in the Orange Bowl, there is a picture of him showing how high he could jump breaking up a pass. He was like our entire 1994 defense, which was up for the challenge with a do-or-die type of mentality in every game.”

Despite all his success at Nebraska, he wasn’t looked at as a sure-fire NFL draft prospect.

“A lot of teams looked at me and I didn’t pass the eye test,” Miles said. “I was undersized and teams didn’t want to take a chance on me early in the draft. My 40-yard dash fastest time (4.63) hurt my NFL draft status, but I was more of a game player; put me on the field and I played fast.”

Miles was a sixth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995 but wasn’t able to establish himself on the team during a three-year, on-and-off relationship. So he left for the Canadian Football League, joining the Montreal Alouettes in 1998.

He became the CFL East Division Rookie of the Year and played seven seasons in Montreal. He then played for the BC Lions in British Columbia from 2005 to 2009. Miles was a six-time CFL All-Star and finished his career with 66 interceptions in 12 years in the CFL. He also finished his playing career as the CFL’s career leader for blocked kicks (13) and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

“The CFL was tailored to undersized guys,” he said. “It is a faster game that fit my ability.”

Miles blocked a punt and fell on the ball for a touchdown against Oklahoma State in 1993.
Miles blocked a punt and fell on the ball for a touchdown against Oklahoma State in 1993.

Miles then transitioned into coaching, staying in the CFL coaching defensive backs. He currently serves as the Alouettes’ defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

“I always wanted to be a coach. It started at Nebraska when I was picking the brains of NU coaches like Tony Samuel, Turner Gill, Kevin Steele and George Darlington,” Miles said. “I was asking real questions, wanting to know why they were asking certain things and what motivated players. It all intrigued me.”

Miles, who is 50, would someday like to make it back to the United States and coach in the NFL or college. For him and his wife, Jennifer, the timing is better to do just that, as his youngest daughter, Ava, is graduating high school; his oldest daughter, Raven, 26, is independent; and his son, Barron Jr., is a redshirt freshman walk-on football player at Nebraska.

“My son had trouble with his hips in high school, so he didn’t play as a sophomore and junior and a little bit his senior year. He didn’t have any recruiting offers, so we went to different schools,” Miles said. “When it came to Nebraska, we knew they would take care of him and when he was offered a walk-on spot, we took it. I try to get back to Lincoln at least twice a year but my wife (who is from Schuyler) and daughters get back there a lot more.”

More Huskers Headed for the NFL

Nebraska Has Three Drafted and Five Sign as Free Agents

By Scottie Spinazola

Add three more names to Nebraska’s list of all-time NFL draftees.

After the 2022 draft in April, the number is up to 364 and puts NU on a three-year streak of having players drafted. The previous stretch ran from 1963 through 2018.

Nebraska’s total added to the Big Ten’s number of 48 players picked, second among conferences to the SEC with 65. Georgia, the national champion, had a stunning 15 picks. LSU had the second most from the SEC with 10.

Penn State led the way in the Big Ten with eight picks. Ohio State had six and Michigan five.

Nebraska’s total of three was eighth among Big Ten teams. NU’s highest pick was center Cam Jurgens, who went in the second round and No. 51 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nebraska also had five players sign with NFL teams as free agents after the draft, and one former Husker – Wan’Dale Robinson, who had transferred to Kentucky – was selected by the New York Giants in the second round and No. 43 overall.

– – – Huskers Drafted – – –

Cam Jurgens
Center, No. 51, second round, Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have not had to worry about the center position for the past 10 years with stalwart Jason Kelce manning the spot for all but 18 games in that stretch. Kelce’s career is starting to wind down, so Jurgens is in a good spot to learn and take over. Kelce was interviewed by local media in Philadelphia during the draft and said this after the pick:

“If he were still available, I knew we were taking him. This is my favorite player in the draft. I am not just saying that because we picked him. The Eagles have been using me to evaluate some of the centers coming out and of all the guys that I have looked at for the past two to three years that I compare to myself, this guy is him.”

Kelce is a five-time pro-bowler and four-time First-Team AP All-Pro.

Jurgens, in a press conference with Philadelphia media, said he met Kelce during a pre-draft visit. “That is a dude that I look up to,” he said. “I am so stoked to be going there.”

Jurgens came to Nebraska out of Beatrice, Nebraska, as a tight end, but eventually moved to center. Explosive and mobile at 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, he clocked a 4.92 40, fifth fastest among offensive lineman in the draft.

Jurgens’ offensive line coach at Nebraska, Greg Austin, once coached with Eagles line coach Jeff Stoutland – a plus for Jurgens.

“His reputation speaks for itself,” Jurgens said of Stoutland during his press conference. “A lot of stuff I did at Nebraska and what I was taught and the terminology is similar to what (the Eagles) do.”

Jurgens said Stoutland was Austin’s mentor.

“I learned from his protege, so a lot of his stuff is a carryover to coach Stout so it’s a dream come true because it’s stuff that I have been doing already,” Jurgens said. “I am excited to keep learning, learning from him with all the incredible guys that he has coached and all his years in the NFL.”

Cam Taylor-Britt
Cornerback, No. 60, second round, Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals coach Zac Taylor, a former Nebraska player himself, got his Husker. Taylor-Britt will help shore up a defensive backfield, which the Bengals addressed with their first two picks: Michigan safety Daxton Hill in the first round and Taylor-Britt in the second.

Last season, the Bengal pass defense ranked No. 26, allowing a total of 4,222 yards. Taylor-Britt offers them a smart, fast – 4.38 40-yard dash – and long-armed option to help fix those numbers.

The Bengals, who reached the Super Bowl last year, traded two picks to ensure they could grab Taylor-Britt.

“That was someone we identified that we wanted and we didn’t want to risk there, with two or three teams in front of us that could take him, so we felt we needed to do that,” Taylor said in a press conference after the second round.

The Bengals like Taylor-Britt’s versatility. They believe he can play outside and slot corner as well as safety. Lou Anarumo, the defensive coordinator, said Cincinnati is trying to collect players who can play more than one position. The more players like Taylor-Britt they can get, he said, the better their defense will be.

Anarumo said Taylor-Britt can play both zone and man-to-man.

“He is a good press corner but has also shown some flexibility in playing in some deep zone, safety stuff,” Anarumo said. “He has done a little bit of everything, which is great.”

Taylor-Britt said he is looking forward to practicing against young Bengals stars like receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

“That was the first thing that I thought about,” Taylor-Britt said. “I cannot wait to bring the juice to practice just like it’s a game. And going against those types of receivers will help my game so much that guarding other receivers won’t be as hard.”

Samori Toure
Wide receiver, No. 258, seventh round, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers shipped Davante Adams, arguably the best receiver in football, to the Las Vegas Raiders. During the draft, they did their best to fill the hole.

They took receiver Christian Watson out of North Dakota State in the second round, Nevada receiver Romeo Doubs in the fourth and Nebraska receiver Samori Toure in the seventh.

Toure now gets the opportunity to work with future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who amazingly has thrown only four touchdown passes to a first-round pass-catcher in his career – all four to Marcedes Lewis, a tight end.

“He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever do it,” Toure said in a post-draft press conference. “Anytime that you are in the same building as that is a blessing and good opportunity.”

The 6-1, 191-pound receiver transferred to Nebraska from Montana and is already 24 years old. As a Husker he lined up in the slot, outside and even the backfield. His goal is to find a quick connection with his quarterback.

“I’ve been watching them for years,” Toure said of the Packers. “Davante has always been one of my favorite receivers and the connection that he and Rodgers had has rarely been seen before in the NFL. They were always on the same page and making spectacular plays. That is something that I have tried to pick up and I am just excited to see how I fit in.”

— Undrafted Free Agents —