Nebraska has produced quite a number of great offensive linemen over the years. No shock in that, given the Cornhuskers' history of college football success (FIVE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS!) combined with one of the nation's historically best rushing attacks.
I made a list of the best, and I thought I'd have a difficult time to picking the best of the bunch. Dave Rimington was easily one of the best in Cornhusker football history, but I didn't think he'd outpace the others as much as he does.
The list includes:
1992 Outland Trophy winner Will Shields. Shields was amazingly consistent as an offensive guard, starting his last 36 games. He was a consensus All-American his senior season. His jersey (#75) was retired in 1994. While NFL careers aren't taken into account, most would know Shields as a guy who played his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 14 years, Shields made 12 Pro Bowls, and only missed one game, his first as a rookie.
Shields definitely belongs in a SB Nation Hall of Fame, but unfortunately we're limited on how many we can nominate, so he'll have to wait until Rimington gets accepted.
Aaron Taylor was the 1997 Outland Trophy winner, and the only Cornhusker to earn All-America Honors at two positions - center and guard. He played center in 1996, then moved to guard in 1997. He won three national titles during his tenure at Nebraska and his jersey (#67) was retired in 1998.
Dean Steinkuhler won the Outland and Lombardi Trophies as a guard in 1983. He gained All-American honors in 1983, and his jersey was retired after the '83 season. For all the great things Steinkuhler did on the field, he's best known for the touchdown he scored in the 1984 Orange Bowl, running the Fumbleroosky (which is now illegal, a damned shame).
Offensive tackle Zach Weigert was another Outland Trophy winner in 1994. He earned First Team All-Big Eight honors three seasons (1992, 1993, 1994), and gave up only one sack his entire Husker career.
Center Dominic Raiola was the first recipient of the Dave Rimington Trophy, winning it in 2000. He finished second in Outland Trophy voting in 2000, but left after his junior year for the NFL draft. Had he not left, he'd most assuredly been another Husker Outland Trophy winner his senior season. He earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors in 1999 and 2000.
As great as these guys were, Rimington stands above them. His bio is nothing short of amazing. He was selected to the All-Big Eight first team three years in a row (1980, 1981, 1982). In 1981, he was selected as the Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year. (If you've ever heard of another offensive lineman being selected as a conference offensive player of the year, I'd love to hear about it.) I've always thought you had to be a little nuts to be a center, but Rimington was freakishly fast as a lineman.
Rimington won the Outland Trophy in 1981 and 1982, becoming the only player to win it in consecutive seasons, and he won the Lombardi Trophy in 1982. He earned First-Team All-America honors in 1981 and 1982 and had his jersey retired after the 1982 season.
Rimington is one of the rare players who have a reward named after them. The Rimington Trophy is given out each season to the best offensive center in the nation, and in 2010, the Big Ten named their new Offensive Lineman of the Year trophy after he and Ohio State's Orlando Pace.
In 1983, Rimington was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the NFL Draft, and today remains as the President of the Boomer Esiason Foundation in New York City.
Rimington will be one of the five players Corn Nation selects as a nominee to SB Nation for inclusion in the initial SB Nation College Football Hall of Fame.
It's stating the obvious to say that if Nebraska is going to get back into the position of being a perennial Big Ten title contender, they must start producing top quality offensive linemen again.
About the SB Nation College Football Hall of Fame
SB Nation is starting its own College Football Hall of Fame. Here's how it works:
For players or inactive coaches, the nominee should have been out of college for four full years. The first class will cover players and coaches who finished their career from 1962 through 2007 (bowls of January 2008). The other option for active coaches OR coaches who haven't been inactive for four years is that they were at their current position for at least five seasons. (Position, NOT school.)
Each SB Nation college site will come up with up to five nominees from these 10 categories suggested: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, Coach.