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Story ran on November 09, 1996

It will seem a little silly to the rest of the college football world where
losses do happen -- with amazing regularity in some cases -- but Grant Wistrom
didn't know how to react to Nebraska's defeat at Arizona State.

Dating back to his junior year at Webb City High School, the Cornhuskers'
junior rush end had won 51 straight games. He won two state high school titles
-- beating Rock Bridge both times -- and national titles in his first two
seasons at Nebraska.

Then the clock ran out in Tempe, Ariz., on Sept. 21. The scoreboard plainly
read Arizona State 19, Nebraska 0.

``It was kind of just an air of disbelief about what was happening because we
feel that we're Nebraska, and regardless of what the score is or how bad we're
down, we're going to win just because that's the way it is,'' Wistrom said.
``There was just a big sense of disbelief that this couldn't be happening.''

After the shock wore off, Wistrom accepted the rare defeat like a winner.

``A loss is just a loss,'' he said. ``I mean, there's other things in the
world a lot more important than football, and we knew the sun was going to
rise the next day and there was going to be another football game to be played
the next weekend. We took that attitude and went on.''

The result has been six straight victories for the fifth-ranked Cornhuskers
and a huge season for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Wistrom.

He leads the team with 71/2 sacks and 14 tackles for losses. He has made 46
tackles, blocked two kicks, forced a fumble and returned an interception for a
touchdown. He is one of 15 semifinalists for the Football News Defensive
Player of the Year award.

``He's super quick,'' Missouri coach Larry Smith said. ``He's just a pressure
player. He comes off that edge on the outside, and he's in on your
quarterback. He chases the run down from the backside. He's hard to block, and
he's hard to beat.''

Wistrom, who was a third-team All-American last year, has combined with fellow
rush end Jared Tomich to form an outstanding tandem. Tomich who was a
first-team All-American last year, has five sacks and two forced fumbles.

``Tomich is a good player,'' Baylor coach Chuck Reedy said. ``Wistrom is a
great player.''

Wistrom is the prototype defensive end in college football today -- tall,
rangy and fast. He is also the sort of in-state player that Missouri can't
afford to lose if it's going to turn around its program.

Wistrom said he didn't even consider Missouri, which was about to dump Bob
Stull at the time he was narrowing his college choices.

``I really didn't like the coach they had there, and they hadn't had the
success they're having right now,'' he said. ``They hadn't won very many
ballgames, and there was always bad publicity about them in the paper and
about all the coaching turmoil they had. Those things gave me some bad

When Smith replaced Stull, he made a push for Wistrom.

``The kid was very honest from the beginning,'' Smith said. ``I think he was
fairly open, but I don't think we were in the picture. I think he had five or
six schools.

``But he was very courteous, very cordial, a very fine young person, a very
good family. I was calling him and talking to him and had a trip planned down
there. He called me the day before and said, `Coach, I don't want to waste
your time. I'm not going to come to Missouri.' ''

It's hard to argue with Wistrom's choice. Unlike most Nebraska linemen, he
played as a true freshman. Wistrom finished the undefeated season with 41/2
sacks. As a sophomore, he started every game and had four sacks and 15 tackles
for losses as Nebraska repeated as national champions.

His first two seasons are hard to top, but Wistrom said that this year has
been his most satisfying.

``I don't know, we may not have a chance to win a national championship this
year or next year, but I'm happy with the way things are going,'' he said.
``I'm enjoying this football season more than I enjoyed either of the previous
two. Football is the most fun for me right now that it's ever been.''

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