- Associated Press - Monday, October 19, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - De’Mornay Pierson-El has played three games since coming back from a broken foot, and each outing has been better than the last.

Nebraska’s dynamic receiver and return specialist took his greatest satisfaction in one play in this past week’s 48-25 win at Minnesota. He got behind defenders Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Antonio Johnson and tipped a jump ball to himself for a 14-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Calhoun was the player who stripped the ball from Pierson-El inside the Minnesota 5-yard line late in last year’s game in Lincoln to secure the Gophers’ 28-24 win.

“I got revenge. Absolutely,” Pierson-El said Monday. “I had a year’s frustration saving up for that game, and it just so happened to be on the same guy. It was a big relief for me. I got my revenge, so I’m good.”

That play and his 42-yard punt return in the first quarter were examples of what the Cornhuskers (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) were missing when he was out the first four games.



“He’s a big play waiting to happen,” running back Terrell Newby said.

As a freshman last year, Pierson-El was second in the country in punt-return average and tied for the national lead with three punt returns for touchdowns. On his first play back from injury, at Illinois on Oct. 3, he muffed a punt.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “It showed me where I was and how far I had to go. I was thinking a lot about it and I jinxed myself, psyched myself out. I should have gotten in the offense (first) just to get the jitters out. Any chance I got, I was going to take it.”

Pierson-El didn’t get another opportunity to run back a punt until he broke the long one against the Gophers. He wasn’t happy punter Peter Mortell chased him out of bounds.

“It felt good to get back there and get back to doing some of the things I like doing. Major confidence builder, really,” he said. “I was a little (mad) at myself, but I’ll get one sooner or later. They had a very good cover team, and they did a good job of squeezing me to the sideline.”

Pierson-El broke his right foot in a mid-August practice, and he’s still not fully recovered. He said the injury affected his ability to cut and that his foot feels better some days than others. Coach Mike Riley said Pierson-El was on the field for about 18 plays against Minnesota, and that number needs to increase. Nebraska hosts Northwestern on Saturday.

Pierson-El has proved to be dangerous running jet sweeps and generating yards after catch. But Riley said limits will be placed on Pierson-El until he gets a better grasp of the offense. He said it’s one thing to watch practice while injured and quite another to go through the repetitions on the field.

“It’s a little more complicated than just throwing him back in there and throwing him the ball,” Riley said. “But we do need to get him going more. We have things that are specifically good for him that we really have to focus on. If we do not play him every play, the things we have for him we need to accentuate and get him the football.”

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