Lincoln native Andy Birkel has fought injury and illness in his attempts to make an impact early in his Husker career. The coaching staff is hopeful the 6-2, 185-pound Birkel will be at full speed in the fall, and he will have ample opportunity to earn playing time as Nebraska makes a move to the West Coast Offense.
Birkel made an immediate impression as a true freshman and was one of five rookies to see playing time in 2003. However, he played in just four games as his season was cut short with a foot injury. This spring, Birkel saw limited practice time because of illness.
Birkel was in the regular wideout rotation at the start of the year and played in the first four games, but did not have any receptions. He missed several games at midseason with a foot injury, but returned to the practice field by season's end.
Before Nebraska (Lincoln Southeast HS)
Birkel was named the Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year by both the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star for his success on the gridiron, the track and the basketball court in 2002-03.
Birkel finished his senior year at Southeast with 31 catches for 747 yards, an average of better than 24 yards per catch. He caught 10 touchdowns for the Knights, who captured the Class A state championship. Birkel also started at defensive back and finished with 38 tackles and three interceptions for Coach Chuck Mizerski’s team.
Birkel earned first-team All-Nebraska honors from the Omaha World-Herald and was a first-team Class A all-state pick. The Lincoln Journal Star tabbed Birkel to its super-state squad as a receiver.
Birkel also won all-class gold medals in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes at the 2003 state track meet. He won the Class A 100-meter title in a time of 10.744, while capturing the 200 in a time of 21.598. He added a title in the 400-meter race in 47.763 – the second-fastest time in state history. Birkel also played a starting role as a guard on Lincoln Southeast’s state runner-up basketball team in 2003.
Birkel began his high school career at Lincoln East, where he earned honorable-mention all-state honors in 2001, with 14 catches for 329 yards and five touchdowns. He added 67 tackles and five interceptions for the Spartans, before transferring to Southeast. As a sophomore, he finished fourth in the 100 and third in the 200 at the state track meet. In addition to starring for East’s track team, he also earned two letters in basketball for the Spartans. He committed to Nebraska after attending the Big Red Football School in 2002, and chose Nebraska over Kansas State and Iowa.
Birkel was born on Jan. 30, 1985, and is the son of Nick and Cherie Birkel. Andy has not declared a major.