Dicaprio Bootle has already secured a spot, along with teammate Freedom Akinmoladun, on this season’s All-American All-Name team. Bootle, a redshirt freshman cornerback, is in position to make himself a household name among Nebraska fans.
With the injury to senior cornerback Chris Jones, the Cornhuskers lost their most experienced coverage man. Filling that void has allowed Bootle to make progress on the depth chart.
“Dicaprio is like a little Tasmanian devil,” Nebraska cornerbacks coach Donte’ Williams said. “Dicaprio plays like he is a 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end. So one thing about him that I never have to worry about is he’s never going to back down from competition, and he’s physical as they come.”
Bootle was almost an afterthought in Nebraska’s 2015 recruiting class. A product of Miami Southridge High School, Bootle’s only other offer from a Power Five school came from Illinois.
It took just a few seconds during a Nebraska satellite camp in Miami for the Huskers coaching staff to offer Bootle. He turned in a 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash.
“After the 40, I remember turning around and everybody was just staring at me,” Bootle said. “So from that point I knew I had the attention. I just had to show that my football skills were there, too, and everything just kind of manifested itself from there on.”
Bootle’s speed comes in handy considering he’s listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds. In addition to being fast, Bootle is feisty.
“I’m naturally aggressive,” Bootle said. “Any time I can be aggressive and it’s appropriate, I go for it.”
On the first depth chart of the season in advance of Saturday’s opener with Arkansas State, Bootle was listed as a backup to sophomore Eric Lee. Sophomore Lamar Jackson was the other starting cornerback. When the Huskers go to nickel coverage, Bootle figures to be the fifth defensive back. And Williams says he has three starting cornerbacks.
“He’s very, very aggressive,” Williams said of Bootle. “He can run. He’s knowledgeable. When something’s not right, he wants to get it right. He has a want-to. And sometimes it’s hard to find a want-to, especially with a young guy. They go through the ringer a little bit. They get down in the dumps. But he’s going to always be the same person. That’s the life of a DB.”
Bootle said that spending time on the scout team as a redshirt last season helped him adjust to everything associated with being a college athlete.
“It helped me grow as a football player,” Bootle said. “It was kind of tough sitting back and watching everybody else playing. … But it was good for me. It was good to sit back and watch how the games go. Back home, you play in front of a couple hundred people. This is 90,000-plus every week. So it’s a different dynamic; a different feel. Just sitting back and getting to watch that was good for me.”
Of the six cornerbacks listed on the depth chart, two were redshirt freshmen and four were sophomores. One of those sophomores, Jackson’s backup Jeremiah Stovall, is a walk-on who was playing intramurals two years ago.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley acknowledges the youth of the cornerbacks but he believes they’re ready.
“They have been stretched and tested,” Riley said. “I’ve been really impressed. I think the one thing we know is that these guys have talent and they have an awareness of what they’re doing.”
And Dicaprio Bootle, in his first season of FBS football, just wants to make a name for himself.
- Fox Sports developed 14 promotional videos for each Big Ten school but Nebraska is distancing itself from the ad promoting the Huskers. It has a “Children of the Corn” theme that draws on the Stephen King story that was made into a movie. David Witty, Nebraska senior associate athletic director for marketing and communications, said, “It’s not really the direction we want the brand to go in.”
This is where the sacrifices are made.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) August 23, 2017
- It’s been The Summer of Hype for Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee. The transfer from Tulane was named the Huskers starter after spring practice and since then the praise has been heavy. “Cool your jets a little bit,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Monday. “I’m not being negative on that. It’s a lot more than just Tanner. He’s going to have to play well, but football being the ultimate team sport, there are 10 other guys on that offense. He can’t do everything, nor do we ask him to.”
- The coaching staff and the players involved know who will start at running back in Saturday’s opener against Arkansas State. Everyone else will find out when Nebraska lines up for its first offensive play. On the depth chart released Monday, Tre Bryant or Mikale Wilbon or Devine Ozigbo are listed together. Because there was no separation in that trio, the Huskers will start the season with a running back by committee.
- Huskers freshman Tyjon Lindsey could provide big-play threat
- Huskers walk-on Stovall battles for backup CB spot