LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Pity the fool who wants to go over the middle and collide with Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga, one of the most ferocious hitters in college football.
Nebraska's Maurice Purify welcomes a run-in with Maualuga. And, no, he doesn't want sympathy.
``Getting hit don't bother me,'' Purify said.
If Purify makes a catch Saturday against the top-ranked Trojans and makes contact with his friend from Eureka high school in far northern California, that means the Cornhuskers receiver will have played more of a role in the game than he did a year ago at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Purify has endured his share of pain, most of it off the field and some of it self-inflicted.
Start with last year. Purify said receivers coach Ted Gilmore fired him up by telling him the game against USC - which showed interest in him but never offered a scholarship - would be his coming-out party. Purify was brokenhearted after getting in for just two plays.
``My family was there, I always wanted to play in the maroon and gold and always wanted to play in that stadium,'' he said this week.
Purify still led the Huskers with 630 yards in receptions on 34 catches last year, but he stumbled in the offseason. His involvement in a bar fight and a separate drunken-driving incident, both in the span of five weeks, landed him on probation and got him suspended for the opener against Nevada.
Purify missed five days of preseason practice to return home for the funeral of his brother, Ronald ``Tay'' Spears, who was shot to death in Oakland, Calif., on Aug. 21.
In his first appearance of the season at Wake Forest last week, Purify admitted, he was overly excited. He caught three passes and dropped two.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Purify, considered the Huskers' top pro prospect at receiver since Irving Fryar in 1983, figures to play a big role in arguably the most important game of coach Bill Callahan's four years at Nebraska.
``I really want to be a factor,'' Purify said. ``Everybody wants to. I can only make plays when the plays come to me. We have a lot of playmakers on the team. If I get two, three, four chances to make plays, I have to make them.''
Even if it means getting knocked around by Maualuga, who delivered one of the biggest hits in college football last year when he hammered UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan. Purify said he sent Maualuga a text message congratulating his former Eureka (Calif.) High School teammate for the shot on Cowan.
Now Purify wants another shot at the Trojans.
``I am motivated to beat them,'' Purify said. ``The simple fact is I didn't get a chance to go there, and my former high school (teammate) went there. I want to beat them and, hopefully, I get to go across the middle so I can get hit by him.''
Last year, Purify stood on the sidelines for most of the Huskers' 28-10 loss to the Trojans. Callahan went conservative, calling just 17 pass plays. One of those passes was intended for Purify, on a fourth-and-9 in the third quarter, but Zac Taylor threw the ball too low. Purify also was on the field for a running play.
``I was mad. I wanted to play,'' Purify said. ``Coach Gilmore told me a lot of times that USC was going to be my big game. When someone tells you USC is going to be your coming-out party and you don't get to play, you're thinking, 'Hey, what's going on?' ``
Gilmore wouldn't discuss what he told Purify. He said it just turned out that the play-calling didn't involve the big receiver. Instead, Callahan ran at the Trojans, and netted just 68 yards on 36 rushes.
``It was a situation where it didn't go the way we wanted it to go. That's it,'' Gilmore said. ``I'm not worried about a year ago. I'm worried about this week, and I'd like to hope he is, too.''
Purify said if Callahan starts emphasizing the run Saturday, he hopes it's because the Huskers show they can move the ball on the ground better than they did last year, or because they have the lead.
``He's the coach, we're the players. He calls the plays, we run them. We do what he says,'' Purify said. ``Whatever he calls, he calls, and we have to live with it.''

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