December 16, 2008

NU's Asante reflects on almost becoming a Tiger

Larry Asante remembers it like it was yesterday.

At the end of a week-long visit to Clemson, S.C., while visiting friends of the Tiger football team, Asante � then regarded as the No. 9 junior college player in the country � sat in then-Clemson head coach [db]Tommy Bowden's office faced with the biggest decision of his life.

He had the official letter of intent to Clemson on the desk in front of him and a pen in his hands, but for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to sign. Something just didn't feel right.

In December of 2006, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety committed to Nebraska, turning down offers from Clemson, Virginia Tech and Kansas State.

With the Huskers now preparing to take on the Tigers in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 1, Asante looks back on that day in Bowden's office and reflects on just how close he came to becoming a Tiger.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," Asante said. "(Bowden) pulled out the papers and was like, 'This is the place for you. I need you sign right here.' And he handed me the pen, and I was like, I just need more time to think about it. So I was that close to signing. I was that close to signing. But deep down inside � I still talk to Coach (Shawn Watson) about this � deep down inside I knew it wasn't the place for me."

In many ways, it was Watson � NU's offensive coordinator � who played one of the biggest roles in bringing Asante to Lincoln to stay.

Asante said the summer before his sophomore season at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, he spent a week on Clemson's campus visiting friends and former teammates of his on the Tigers' football team.

He spent the majority of his visit with players like former Tiger safety Chris Russell and current players Michael Hamlin, Chris Clemons and Akeem Robinson. He said he enjoyed his Clemson experience, and the school's proximity to his hometown of Alexandria, Va., was a definite plus.

When he took his official visit in mid-December of 2006, Asante said he met with Bowden and then-defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. He said the three spent time talking about Clemson's football tradition, academics, religion and the long line of Tiger safeties that went on to play in the NFL, such as current Eagles' star Brian Dawkins.

When it came down to actually sign, though, Asante said he just wasn't quite ready yet. He had yet to take his official visit to Nebraska, and with the relationship he had already developed with Watson, Asante didn't think it would be fair not to give the Huskers a chance.

Four days after visiting Clemson, Asante committed to Nebraska.

"(Clemson) is a good program, but it wasn't for me," Asante said. "It wasn't for me. Coach Watson was so good to me through the recruiting period. He didn't lie and didn't pull my string. He kept it real from the beginning. That's why I chose Nebraska."

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