On March 9, Cam Taylor-Britt looked out across a group of Nebraska sports media members with bright eyes and a smile on his face. He was itching to tackle questions with as much enthusiasm as any wide receiver he's gone up against to date.
"Good morning. How ya'll doing?"
The junior from Montgomery, Alabama, finds himself more than a name. He is now an icon, a logo, and following the Huskers' first — and what will now be its only — spring football press conference, a standard-bearer.
Taylor-Britt addressed the crowd while wearing a hoodie with a simple message: Humble Over Hype.
"I've been wearing this sweatshirt a lot," he said. "Be humble. We're not trying to throw any high expectations everywhere. We're just focusing on the now and getting better right now."
Following a second sub.-500 season under head coach Scott Frost, yet another year without a postseason appearance, that's definitely the way to go. Keep your head down and grind in silence while adopting the Missouri state motto of "Show Me."
But No. 5 does more than just punch in for practice and weight room duties. He's constantly on Twitter peer recruiting for the Huskers while propping up his teammates, especially those among his unit. His affinity for doing this goes beyond the keyboard, though.
"The guys that we have, we can play all the positions on the field. Me, [Dicaprio Bootle], Deontai [Williams] and Marquel [Dismuke]." He was also quick to show love to Braxton Clark, Quinton Newsome, and Myles Farmer.
He played three positions in 2019, starting seven games at safety following Williams' injury versus South Alabama. He'd eventually switch with Bootle, offering aid to the now-departed Lamar Jackson at cornerback and is even familiar with working the nickel spot under defensive coordinator Erik Chinander.
His stat line for this past season reads like a budding leader's would: 49 tackles (29 solo), three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions with a pick-six, four forced fumbles, and three pass breakups.
The Big Red needs his production to continue in the fall as with Jackson's departure, the secondary demands a new presence to rally behind.
While the defensive line and linebackers try to find their rhythm, Nebraska's best defensive unit absolutely must hold its own and Taylor-Britt has the chops and swag to sit at the head of Travis Fisher's table.
Nebraska recently announced a program to boost the brands of every college athlete across its rosters. "Cam Juice" found himself as one of the first public beneficiaries with a video package that dropped on Feb. 24.
On a roster that includes Adrian Martinez and Wan'Dale Robinson, some Husker fans feel that Taylor-Britt is, in fact, the best player overall. If nothing else, he is perhaps the Big Red's best influencer in an age that rewards such merits.
"I know it's going to be tough... to actually pick who's going to be on the field. Everybody's being very competitive. Everybody wants to play."
Humble over hype, indeed.
For Taylor-Britt, the question isn't whether or not he starts his games on Memorial Stadium's turf but what vantage point he sees it from. Martinez has his brand of "2AM" and plays the game's flashiest position. Taylor-Britt, on the other hand, prepares to rule the roost of the secondary and keep all Blackshirts calm under pressure.
(Top photo courtesy of huskers.com)