Although he grew up in the shadow of the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, Sam Shurtleff never harbored dreams of playing — or even cheering — for the Bulldogs.
Shurtleff – who played defensive end and tight end at Oconee County – always had his heart set on playing at Nebraska and right before Christmas, his dream came to fruition when he announced he accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play for the Cornhuskers, coached by Scott Frost.
“I’m a bit relieved the whole recruiting process is over,” said Shurtleff earlier this week. “It can be really stressful for a lot of people. Right now I’m just anxious. I know I have a little time before I go to Lincoln and I’ve got to make the most of it. You could say I’m anxious and extremely excited.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Shurtleff had a standout year for Travis Noland’s Warriors, a team that was besieged by injuries but still advanced to the Class 4A state playoffs. Shurtleff recorded 37 tackles, three quarterback sacks, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
He was an all-Region 8-4A first team selection this season and was invited to play in the Athens Area FCA All-Star Game in December.
The son of Christine and Michael Shurtleff of Watkinsville said he shared an affinity for the Cornhuskers with his father, who grew up in Nebraska.
“It all started with my dad,” said Shurtleff. “He was born in Atlanta and when he was about 4 years old, his family moved to western Nebraska to start a soda distributorship. When you’re a kid and you first start liking sports, from the time he was 4 until he came back to Georgia to finish up high school, he fell in love with Nebraska and that’s where my love grew for it.
“On Saturdays in Watkinsville, when I was a kid, I didn’t really watch the Bulldogs as much as I did the Cornhuskers. I still have lots of family up there on my dad’s side.”
A family member helped Shurtleff get on Nebraska’s radar. Shurtleff’s cousin, Steve Raymond,