Groce Named SBC Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week

By NU Athletic Communications
Groce returns two punts for touchdowns against Troy State
Groce returns two punts for touchdowns against Troy State
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska cornerback and punt returner DeJuan Groce was selected as the SBC Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Troy State Saturday night.

It was the third Big 12 Player of the Week award for the Huskers this season with Josh Brown winning the special teams award and Pat Ricketts claiming defensive honors last week.

Missouri quarterback Brad Smith and Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin were selected as co-offensive players of the week, while Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson was tabbed as the defensive player of the week.

Groce returned two punts for touchdowns against Troy State, including an 83-yarder in the second quarter and a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter to set school and Big 12 game records. The two returns also tied a NCAA record -- most recently set by Eddie Tillitz of Miami (Ohio) in 2000.

Groce?s 155 punt return yards on the night were just 15 yards shy of the school record set by Johnny Rodgers against Oklahoma State in 1971. He now has four punt returns for touchdowns in his career and moved into the top 10 on NU?s career punt return yards list at seventh with 671 yards. Groce raised his average to 30.8 yards per return, which ranks third nationally. On the defensive side of the ball, he also intercepted two passes against the Trojans.

Smith, a redshirt freshman, debuted by leading Missouri to a 33-20 upset over defending Big Ten champion Illinois in St. Louis. The first freshman to start the season opener at Missouri, Smith amassed 290 yards of total offense. He threw for 152 yards on 15-of-26 passing and rushed for 138 yards on 18 carries.

Griffin rushed 17 times for a career-high 237 yards, the 13th-highest total in school history, in a 37-0 victory at Tulsa. The senior also caught two passes to extend his school record for receptions in consecutive games to 28 and move into 10th-place in Big 12 career catches with 113.

Johnson posted 12 tackles (seven solo), three tackles for loss (-9 yards) and three quarterback pressures in leading a Texas defense that recorded the Horns? first shutout (27-0 over North Texas) in a season opener since 1978.



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