Westerkamps have mixed emotions

Westerkamps have mixed emotions

Jordan Westerkamp admits it. Without much prompting. Saturday is not just another game.

The star Nebraska receiver will see plenty of familiar faces in Lincoln. Coaches who recruited him. Players he went against in high school.

Get a Nebraska scouting report Saturday morning at 10:45 on WDWS with Huskers radio man Greg Sharpe.

He got to know Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt during a high school all-star game in Arizona.

“We ended up losing on a field goal,” Westerkamp said.

For Westerkamp, Illinois is not just another Big Ten rival. It is Dad’s team.

Bob Westerkamp was The News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year back in the day. He signed with Illinois and played on the 1983 Big Ten championship team.

“There’s a little history there,” Jordan Westerkamp said.

“We’ve had a couple of friendly jokes about it this week,” Bob Westerkamp said. “ ‘Maybe I’ll sit on the Illinois sideline this week.’ Or ‘maybe I’ll wear my Rose Bowl jersey to the game.’ I give him a couple little ribbings.”

Next year’s return game to Champaign will bring back a flood of memories for father and son.

At Lombard Montini, Jordan Westerkamp won three state titles in Champaign.

His senior year, Westerkamp caught 12 passes for 353 yards and five touchdowns in a classic state final against Joliet Catholic.

Westerkamp’s family will be well-represented at Saturday’s game. They follow Jordan home and away.

“I have a huge family,” Jordan Westerkamp said. “Whenever any family members really want to come to a game, we’re usually pretty good about getting them some tickets. For this one, I will have more family members coming since it is against Illinois.”

Jordan hasn’t talked to Bob much about his Illinois days. Bob Westerkamp’s career at Illinois was cut short because of a severe knee injury.

“The only time it really came into play was when I was in my recruiting,” Jordan Westerkamp said. “He told me not to pick Illinois because he went there. He told me to weigh all my options and go visit every possible school.”

That’s what parents do: offer advice while knowing the choice is up to the athlete. And they provide support.

“He’s always exceeded my expectations, not only on the field but off the field,” Bob Westerkamp said. “He’s a great kid. He’s hard- working and very humble.”

Dad never pushed his son toward a particular school.

“I was just there to guide him with my experience in the recruiting process,” Bob Westerkamp said.

Jordan Westerkamp considered Illinois.

“They have a great offense, and they throw the ball around a lot,” Jordan Westerkamp said. “But when I came to Nebraska, I just knew immediately it was the place for me.”

He picked Nebraska over Ohio State and Notre Dame.

Nebraska is known for its running game. But one of the school’s three Heisman Trophy winners, Johnny Rodgers, played receiver.

“I want the team to win,” Westerkamp said. “I want us to be successful however we can be successful. If that’s running the ball, if that’s throwing the ball, I’ve got to have that unselfish attitude.”

Westerkamp showed his hands with a behind-the-back catch against Florida Atlantic. Check it out on YouTube.

“I’ve seen it here and there,” Westerkamp said. “It was pretty cool. I try to remain humble.”

But it was the best catch of his career.

“I’ve had one-handers and diving catches but never behind the back,” Westerkamp said.

Best catch? Yes. Most important catch? No.

That would be a 2013 Hail Mary catch to defeat Northwestern.

“That was awesome,” Westerkamp said. “A real cool deal.”

His fancy catches have been somewhat pushed aside by his “unique” facial hair. Westerkamp wears a mustache that has its own Facebook page.

“I think it’s funny,” Westerkamp said. “It’s something that I’ve always kind of done when I get into the season. I try not to mess with it for superstitious reasons.”

The fans like it.

“My mother (Kim) hates it,” Westerkamp said. “She’s like, ‘Get rid of that thing. You need to be clean-shaven.’ ”

He isn’t about to shave now. Not with his team off to a 4-0 start. The plan is to keep it going and win the Big Ten.

“That’s our ultimate goal,” Westerkamp said. “That would mean the world to us. We want to do everything we can to get there. We’ve got to keep working hard.”

And keep catching the balls behind their backs.

Friends back home are on his side.

“It’s great to have that kind of support system,” Westerkamp said.

State your case
Jordan Westerkamp is a shining star from the 2011 News-Gazette All-State team. But he isn’t the only honoree to find college success. Here are some of the other top performers:
Aaron Bailey    QB    Bolingbrook    Backup waiting for his first Illinois action in 2014

Wes Lunt    QB    Rochester    POY (over Westerkamp, Ty Isaac) one of the top passers in the Big Ten

Anthony Maddie    QB    Aurora Christian    Backup at Northern Illinois has thrown 10 passes after transfer from Western Michigan

Kendrick Foster    RB    Peoria Richwoods    Three-time All-Stater waiting his turn at Illinois

Ty Isaac    RB    Joliet Catholic    Superstar recruit sitting out year at Michigan after transfer from USC

Malin Jones    RB    Joliet Catholic    Northwestern signee transferred to Louisville during the summer

Zach Grant    WR    Rochester    Illinois walk-on happy to see buddy Lunt transfer from Oklahoma State

Dan Vitale    WR    Wheaton Warrenville South    Leads Northwestern this season with 11 catches

Johnny Caspers    OL    Glenbard West    Stanford starting right guard thinking about another trip to the Rose Bowl

Jordan Diamond    OL    Chicago Simeon    Sitting out the rest of the Auburn season after surgery for an undisclosed issue

Colin Goebel    OL    Naperville North    Trying to earn playing time on a talented, deep Iowa line

Ethan Pocic    OL    Lemont    Graham’s little brother backup center at LSU

Scott Taylor    OL    Marian Catholic    Backup lineman looking for playing time at Northern Illinois

Dan Voltz    OL    Barrington    Starting center for dominating Wisconsin offensive line

Faith Ekakitie    DL    Lake Forest Academy    Iowa backup defensive tackle has one-half of a sack

Dean Lowry    DL    Rockford Boylan    Northwestern starting end eighth on the team in tackles and has 2.5 sacks

Tommy Schutt    DL    Glenbard West    Backup defensive tackle has two tackles for Ohio State

Eric Hauser    LB    Loyola Academy    Northwestern backup looking for playing time

Jack Lynn    LB    Lake Zurich    Starting Minnesota linebacker third on the team with 20 tackles

Antonio Morrison    LB    Bolingbrook    Florida starting linebacker might have a pro decision after this season

Tevin Coleman    DB    Oak Forest    Indiana tailback currently third in the nation in rushing