Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
It was just one snap, a meaningless play late in Nebraska's game with New Mexico State in Septemeber. For Tyrone Fahie, it was a moment of fulfillment, a product of an unlikely journey.
Fahie (pronounced: Foy) is a native of Virginia Beach, Va. - not exactly a hot bed for Huskers recruiting. In high school, he played football but also was in the marching band. At 17, he joined the Navy after graduating high school in 2000.
A chance meeting during boot camp with Nebraska native Casey Sok led to a visit to Memorial Stadium. Fahie sat among the 85,000-plus dressed in red and decided he wanted to be part of the Nebraska football team.
The only impediments to overcome involved completing his six years of active service. After serving two tours in Iraq, surviving walkon tryouts and becoming a member of Nebraska's scout team was a breeze.
Fahie was a Petty Officer, 2nd Class. His job was setting up and monitoring communications between other military units and SEAL Team One.
"The first couple of months over there, everytime you heard something loud, it was, 'Oh no,'" Fahie said of his tours of duty. "But you get used to hearing mortars and rockets going off. The mantra is, 'If you see it explode and you hear it explode, it didn't kill you, so you're fine.' You can't worry about stuff or you can't do your job.
"Most people go over there thinking the worst that can happen is you get killed. Once you're over there with your team, you stop thinking about that. You realize the worst thing you can do is get someone else killed by not being there mentally."
Fahie earned the respect of his superior officers. When there was a job to do, they would often look past others with a higher rank and seek out Fahie.
"In football, everybody focuses on the game," he said. "They don't see all the practice and preparation that goes into getting ready for the game. In the military, we had 18 months of training for a six-month deployment. It got to where everything was routine.
"I worked with a SEAL team, a small unit. Every person on their team has a job and every person does that job and expects the person next to them to do their job. That's the only way they can survive."
That team work helped prepare Fahie for his shot at college football. After his active duty was complete, Fahie made his way to Lincoln. At 6-3, 255 pounds, his size caught the coaches' eyes during the walkon tryouts in the spring of 2007.
Before getting the chance to take the field against New Mexico State, Fahie worked and practiced, practiced and worked.
"Truthfully, it was nerve racking," he said of his first game experience. "I thought the coach was joking with me. My heart's beating, going crazy. I ran on the field, I running around, "Hey, what are we doing, what are we doing?' Then it was over. Game speed is so much faster than practice speed."
"I was appreciative of the coaches, giving the guys on the scout team some love, letting us get in a game."
Each week, Nebraska's scout team runs the offensive and defensive plays used by that week's opponent. They're more than human tackling dummies; players on the scout team hope that their effort will pay off in playing time.
"There's a great deal of pride on the scout team," Fahie said. "We take it personally to help the team get ready for each game. It's gratifying that when we played Iowa State, they put up over 500 yards. We helped them get ready, we gave them the looks that Iowa State was gonna use."
Last season, Fahie says the scout team was largely forgotten and ignored. Under first-year coach Bo Pelini, it's part of the program.
"The entire coaching staff is watching what we do," he said. "They evaluate us, we have a depth chart, you're fighting for your position each week. We've got position coaches for the line, the linebackers, the secondary."
Fahie has twice made the Big 12 Commissioner’s honor roll and he carries a 3.2 grade-point average in management with an emphasis in information systems. He's on track to graduate in December of 2009. He plans to continue playing football, even if it's just on the scout team and even if that one play againt Nebraska is his "Rudy" moment.
"In the long run, it will be worth it if that's the only play I get," he said. "Nebraska was where I wanted to play. But I don't think that's gonna be my only shot. I think I'll have more opportunities."