Nebraska TE Travis Vokolek reflects on time at the Rutgers, previews return to Piscataway this fall

Indianapolis – as he sat in Platform Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium for Ten big media daysNebraska narrow end Travis Vokulik He was asked about the individual goals he’s set for this fall as his final season in college football approaches.

In the midst of discussing his focus on becoming a leader, he had an epiphany.

“I’m like the biggest player on the team,” said Nebraska’s tight end. “I’m 24! That’s crazy.”

A great start with Bory stealing the show and a 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame screaming Sundays, Vokolek has a chance of being a standout player in the Big Ten.

He’ll need to be for the Cornhuskers and head coach Scott Frost, a program and coach facing a crossroads. They went 3-9 last season, with all nine single-digit losses, and anything short of making it to a pot game would be a crisis for Lincoln. Vokolek takes everything by leaps and bounds.

“There is noise every year, both positive and negative,” Voculik said. “The thing we just focused on is that it’s about us in the changing room and in the facility, it’s not about what other people think.”

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Whatever the season goes on, it will surely be Foukolek’s last, marking the end of a long college football journey that began in Rutgers. He spent two seasons there, in the middle of Chris Ashe’s disastrous four-year tenure as head coach.

The Scarlet Knights didn’t win much while Vokolek was there, going 5-19 across the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but the tight finish made clear some of his huge potential. He’s had 17 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in 19 games (nine starts), enough production to receive the attention of head coach Scott Frost and the Huskers.

He’s sat in a season after his move – how quickly things change! Before you carve out a small role during the 2020 season affected by the Corona virus. He missed the first three games of the 2021 campaign through injury before serving as backup for Big Ten Tight End of the Year Austin Allen in the last nine games, collecting 11 passes for 127 yards in the process.

Vokulik missed camp this spring with another injury, but said he was “in good shape” ahead of the 2022 season.

Meanwhile, he continued his previous program “a little bit”, watching their rise under the current coach Greg Chiano.

Fukulik said most of the players he got close to during his time at Piscataway are no longer around, either due to graduation or a move, but he nonetheless hails from Rutgers from afar. Seeing the Scarlet Knights compete in the Gator Bowl last December was a highlight.

“Wonderful people, wonderful colleagues, wonderful friends for the rest of my life,” said Vokulik. “I really enjoyed my time there. … I was very grateful for my time there. It was great to see them play a bowl game because we had some difficulties when we were there. I am really happy for them.”

“I wish nothing but the best for these guys.”

That is, except when faced with mummies.

Nebraska returns to Piscataway this fall, facing Rutgers in prime time on Friday, October 7. It would be Fukulik’s second time competing at Shea Stadium as a visiting player, as he scored 16 yards in a 28-21 Huskers win. The Crimson Knights during the 2020 season.

“It was a different feeling to be in Piscataway, to be in the same hotel, but being on the other sideline was a little different,” Foculik said. “But I enjoyed it and it was great to see these guys there.”

When he returns to the field for the last time in October, there will be no second guess as to whether he will play for the right team.

“We don’t regret,” Foculik said of his decision to move to Nebraska. “I enjoyed every bit of it. There were hard times and some really good times. I really enjoyed it.”

But Vokulik said he’s not looking too far ahead. He’s looking to go “1-0” every week of the season, starting with a meeting with Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland, to start the season in late August. He’s looking forward to a season as an old man, and every part feels his age.

“It was crazy,” Voculik said of his career. “I never thought I’d go to college for six years. Getting started at Rutgers was great. I’m so grateful for my time there. I moved to Lincoln, came home and loved every aspect of it.”

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Brian Fonseca can be reached at bfonseca@njadvancemedia.com.