How many college football sites would lead their fall position breakdowns with the offensive line?
Just Nebraska. Okay, maybe Wisconsin.
So, what can we expect from this unit this fall?
There were definitely some early struggles, but the offensive line paved the way for the first 1000 yard rusher (Devine Ozigbo) since Ameer Abdullah in 2014. They also protected Adrian Martinez well enough for him to set a slew of Husker records, but it is hard to know how much of that was Martinez and how much was the line.
Guard/center: Cole Conrad started 2018 as center, but was replaced (injury) by guard Tanner Farmer about four games in with Boe Wilson replacing Farmer at right guard. Farmer got some tryouts for NFL camps but ended up with the CFL’s Winnepeg Blue Bombers, being among the final cuts prior to the season. Conrad went to an NFL mini camp (Vikings) but I don’t see him on the roster. Jerald Foster took 21 career starts at left guard with him at graduation and has a chance at an NFL career - he is currently on the Washington Redskins roster.
Tackle: Matt Farniok (RT) and Brenden Jaimes (LT) return at tackle; both are juniors and bring a combined 36 starts between them. The bright side of having two relatively young guys with so many starts is that they play a position where they hopefully still have their best football left (between Zach Duval’s strength program and Greg Austin’s tutelage on technique). The not-so-bright side is that we aren’t sure about depth.
The 2019 recruiting class was heavy on offensive tackles headlined by four-start Minnesota native Bryce Benhart. Benhart is already being projected by several outlets onto the 2019 two-deep as a true freshman.
For what it’s worth, the spring game “Red” (supposedly the top players) offensive line was: Will Farniok (C/G?, rFr.), AJ Forbes (G/C?, rFr.), Christian Gaylord (T, Sr.), Trent Hixson (G, So.), Brendan Jaimes (T, Jr.), Cameron Jurgens (C, rFr.), John Raridon (G, Jr.), Matt Sichterman (G, So.), Boe Wilson (G, Jr.), and Matt Farniok (T, Jr.).
The “White” offensive line was: Broc Bando, Mitchell Balenger, Hunter Miller, Brian Perez, and Nick Virka. (W. Farniok, Gaylord, Sichterman, Raridon and Forbes played on both units.)
What does that mean?
My guess is that the “Red” unit plus (probably) incoming freshman Benhart are likely to dominate the two-deep (barring any injuries or surprise fall camp performances.) If you do a double-take, you will also note that there is only one senior (Gaylord) and he is likely a backup instead of a starter. 2019 may still see some early struggles because of youth in the middle, but the 2020 Huskers could field a rather experienced line.
Remind me to call dibs on the offensive line preview for 2020 so I can gush over the thought of Adrian Martinez doing Adrian Martinez things behind a line potentially returning all starters and having spent three seasons in the weight room with Zach Duval.
Projected Depth Chart
Redshirt freshman and converted tight end Cam Jurgens spent most of the spring getting looks as the top center, splitting time with fellow redshirt freshman Will Farniok. Jurgens has spent the summer rehabbing stress fractures (feet), likely a side effect of the weight gained in his move from tight end to the line. If he is healthy, the coaching staff seems to want him on the field sooner rather than later. Don’t count out Josh Wegener who is walking on at Nebraska as the #1 rated juco center if the youngsters have a rough camp or the injury bug strikes. Wegener spent the spring rehabbing a torn ligament in his foot, but will probably get a chance to show what he can do this fall.
LT - Brenden Jaimes (21 starts) - Christian Gaylord
LG - Trent Hixson - John Raridon
C - Cam Jurgens (if healthy) - Will Farniok - Josh Wegener
RG - Boe Wilson (9 starts) - AJ Forbes
RT - Matt Farniok (15 starts) - Bryce Benhart
Others that have gotten mentions as candidates for the two-deep are Matt Sichterman (T or G) and Hunter Miller.
Two Nebraska natives are part of my projected starting line in Jurgens and Hixson. Both Farniok brothers are South Dakota boys (Sioux Falls) with Forbes and Miller also being native Nebraskans. Raridon and Wegener are both now on the right side of the Iowa border, and Benhart is a Minnesotan (you betcha!). Wilson is from Missouri and Gaylord from Kansas. Only Jaimes and Sichterman travelled far to get to Husker land - all the way from Texas and Ohio, respectively.
I guess Ugly Dog has it right, trench players stick close to home while the skill players travel.
Sorry, I couldn’t get the height information formatted properly, so I deleted it for now.
Nebraska Offensive Line 2019
|72||Matthew Anderson||255||Fr.||Leesville, La. (Leesville)|
|61||Mitchell Balenger||305||RFr.||Leonardtown, Md. (Fork Union Military Academy) (Leonardtown)|
|73||Broc Bando||310||So.||Lincoln, Neb. (IMG Academy)|
|74||Brant Banks||300||Fr.||Houston, Texas (Westbury Christian)|
|54||Bryce Benhart||305||Fr.||Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville North)|
|59||Ian Boerkircher||260||RFr.||Aurora, Neb. (Nebraska-Kearney) (Aurora)|
|71||Matt Farniok||335||Jr.||Sioux Falls, S.D. (Washington)|
|68||Will Farniok||295||RFr.||Sioux Falls, S.D. (Washington)|
|52||AJ Forbes||310||RFr.||Bellevue, Neb. (West)|
|78||Jimmy Fritzsche||275||Fr.||Greenville, S.C. (Greenville)|
|65||Christian Gaylord||310||Sr.||Baldwin City, Kan. (Baldwin City)|
|75||Trent Hixson||310||So.||Omaha, Neb. (Skutt Catholic)|
|76||Brenden Jaimes||300||Jr.||Austin, Texas (Lake Travis)|
|51||Cameron Jurgens||285||RFr.||Beatrice, Neb. (Beatrice)|
|77||Michael Lynn||290||Fr.||Greenwood Village, Colo. (Cherry Hills)|
|66||Hunter Miller||320||So.||Stromsburg, Neb. (Cross County)|
|53||Riley Moses||305||Fr.||Fairmont, Neb. (Fillmore Central)|
|67||Garrett Nuss||240||Fr.||Sutton, Neb. (Sutton)|
|57||Ethan Piper||300||Fr.||Norfolk, Neb. (Norfolk Catholic)|
|50||John Raridon||315||Jr.||West Des Moines, Iowa (Valley)|
|56||Collin Shefke||290||RFr.||Lincoln, Neb. (Southwest)|
|70||Matt Sichterman||315||So.||Cincinnati, Ohio (Kings)|
|79||Noah Stafursky||330||Fr.||York, Neb. (York)|
|62||Nick Virka||255||Sr.||Morse Bluff, Neb. (North Bend)|
|58||Josh Wegener||310||Jr.||Algona, Iowa (Algona)|
|56||Boe Wilson||300||Jr.||Lee's Summit, Mo. (Lee's Summit West)|