Nebraska football fans understand more than most the value of an offensive line. In the glory years under Tom Osborne, it was the legendary Pipeline that cleared the way for Nebraska quarterbacks and running backs and established NU’s identity as a smash-mouth offense.
Nebraska’s offensive line in recent years has been an area of great concern for the Children of the Corn. So, as Nebraska works through spring practice, let’s return to our Stephen Colbert-style look at the team to get to better know your Nebraska offensive line.
Throughout the offseason, it appeared that senior Cole Pensick (6’2”, 275 pounds) was the leader in the clubhouse to start at center for Nebraska.Pensick has, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star, been working entirely at center this spring.
Junior Mark Pelini (6’0”, 285 pounds), who filled in for Justin Jackson at center last year when Jackson was injured, has himself been hurt and unable to participate.
Redshirt freshman Paul Thurston (6’5”, 275) is also in the mix, potentially as a center of the future for Nebraska.
Nebraska’s roster is practically littered with guards, so depth at the position should not be an issue. Senior Spencer Long (6’4”, 305 pounds), regarded as the best overall talent on the entire offensive line, will be returning to anchor the unit.
Sophomore Jake Cotton (6’6”, 295 pounds) and junior Mike Moudy (6’5”, 305 pounds) look to be in the mix for a starting role at guard.
An injury will sideline sophomore Ryne Reeves (6’3”, 295 pounds) for the spring, setting him back somewhat in his quest for more playing time.
Andrew Rodriguez (6’6”, 325 pounds), who spent most of 2012 at tackle, could also get some work at guard next season.
Incoming junior-college transfer Chongo Kondolo (6’4”, 290 pounds) will likely get a first look at guard when he arrives on campus, as well.
So, which offensive lineman are you most excited to see?
The area of biggest need for Nebraska coming out of 2012 looks to be stronger going forward. All signs point to junior college transfer Matt Finnan (6’7”, 305 pounds) slotting in immediately and starting at tackle.
Rodriguez will be in the mix, although the coaches’ consideration of moving him to guard may suggest he is lower on the pecking order than some of the other players.
Seniors Jeremiah Sirles (6’6”, 310 pounds) and Brent Qvale (6’7”, 315 pounds) look likely to be at the top of the depth chart come next season.
Sophomore Givens Price (6’4”, 290 pounds) is also being considered to switch from guard to tackle, and sophomore Zach Sterup (6’8”, 300 pounds) should challenge for playing time this season.
Incoming freshmen Dwayne Johnson (6’6”, 275 pounds) and David Knevel (6’9”, 300 pounds) seem certain to slot in at tackle upon their arrival in Lincoln, while Zach Hannon (6’5”, 295 pounds) may end up at guard even though some recruiting services have him listed as a tackle.
Senior Brodrick Nickens (6’5”, 305 pounds), who spent most of his career in the mix at tackle, will be switching sides and playing defensive tackle next season.
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UPDATE: This article has been corrected to reflect Chongo Kondolo's status as a junior-college transfer.