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Providence Celtics linebacker Jack Fordon (49) causes a fumble on a sack against Bradley Boilermakers quarterback Seth Pallissard (21) at Providence High School in New Lenox, Illinois, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. | Michael DiNovo~For Sun-Times Media
Not everyone who enjoys a successful college football career starts out on scholarship.
Providence linebacker Jack Fordon is hoping to become another example of those who can thrive without one.
The 6-2, 225-pound Fordon jumped at the chance to be a preferred walk-on when the University of Nebraska made him that offer Sunday night.
“I’m really excited,” Fordon said. “I always thought about going there. We used to drive through Nebraska on the way to Colorado [on family vacations]. We passed through the campus, and I liked it.”
The only difference, Fordon noted, is that “I have to pay for everything. Otherwise, a preferred walk-on is just like a scholarship player.
“They’ll be expecting a lot of hard work from me, in the weight room, on the field and in school, just like they do from everyone on scholarship. And if I show I am good enough to play, they said I will.”
Fordon and his cousin, Brian Fordon, who will continue his football career at Dartmouth, gave Providence a solid linebacking duo. The Celtics reached the second round of the Class 7A playoffs last season, falling to eventual state runner-up Lincoln-Way East 24-14.
Jack Fordon had offers from Division II Lindenwood and Bemidji State. Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois wanted him as a preferred walk-on, and Penn State and Kansas also had shown interest in the same capacity. A couple of schools had talked to him about perhaps playing fullback rather than linebacker.
Fordon’s dad, John, played football at Mount Carmel. A friend of his dad from that connection talked to Nebraska coaches, and that got the process started with the Cornuskers.
“They got my films, I applied and coach [Jeff] Jamrog [the assistant athletic director for football operations] called and offered the preferred walk-on,” Fordon said. “I accepted it right away.”
Nebraska finished 10-4 under coach Bo Pelini last season, losing the Big Ten title game to Wisconsin 70-31 and the Capital One Bowl to Georgia 45-31.
Fordon said he is unsure what he will study. He plans to arrive on campus in June and take a summer class.
“I probably will red-shirt this first season unless they want me on special teams,” he said. “Whatever it takes for me to show I can play and get on the field, I’m willing. If that’s as a linebacker, great. If not, I’ll play anywhere they want.”