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Former starter in comeback with top-ranked 'Huskers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Erwin Swiney made immediate contributions when he joined the Nebraska football team as a true freshman in 1997.
Three years later, he's looking to prove that he still has the talent to be an impact player.
Swiney is listed as co-No. 1 with DeJuan Groce at right cornerback for the Huskers this fall after taking a medical redshirt last year to recover from surgery to repair abdominal muscles.
"I'm very motivated," Swiney said. "I'm happy to be able to come back and contribute to the team and perform out there on the field."
Swiney made plenty of contributions to the NU secondary in his first two years. He took over as a starter at left corner opposite Ralph Brown four games into the 1997 season and started all 12 games the next season as a sophomore.
His 17 career pass breakups, including 13 in 1998, tie Swiney for seventh on Nebraska's all-time charts.
But all of that was before his operation after the 1999 spring game.
Swiney, a graduate of Lincoln Northeast, suddenly went from a two-year starter to watching games from the sidelines. It was the first time he had to cope with a major injury.
"It was a little frustrating, but I sort of took it more as a positive than a negative thing," he said. "I took it in stride and also used it as motivation, so it got me through."
Now Swiney and left corner Keyuo Craver will be counted on to help anchor a secondary that lost All-Big 12 players Mike and Ralph Brown.
Swiney and Craver join Dion Booker and Clint Finley as players with starting experience in Nebraska's defensive backfield.
"I think we've got some real talented people coming back," Swiney said. "I can't say we could ever replace Mike or Ralph Brown, but we've got our own spots to fill in and our own gaps to fill in, and the guys that are coming back will really get the job done and do well."
Because he has not seen game action in over a year - and with younger players such as Groce waiting to make their mark - Swiney knows he will need to prove himself immediately.
"A lot of motivation comes from wanting to come back and show that I'm back, and I know I have to do stuff on the field," Swiney said.