Re-loading on the offensive line

There isn't a place on the football field that has evolved as much as the offensive line in Lincoln. It's not as easy to see, but Nebraska is bringing in players that fit more of a zone-blocked scheme and have road grading qualities and can pass block.

The pipe line is returning to Lincoln and that is music to the ears of the Nebraska faithful. The past couple of years have been a progression to re-defining, re-shaping, and building the depth on the offensive line - depth more suitable for the type of offense Nebraska and Tim Beck want to run. The front five is being touted as possibly the best in the Big Ten, and one of the best ever at Nebraska.


Seung Hoon Choi (Starter LG) – A walk-on, Choi really proved to be a tough competitor on the offensive line the past couple of seasons. Choi leaves a hole at left guard.

Justin Jackson (Starter C) – Jackson was another walk-on who after moving from defensive line over to offense was capable of setting the tone at the center spot. Jackson had his season cut short from injury.

Brandon Thompson – Thompson is the only scholarship lineman lost to graduation in 2013. The native Texan served as a reserve at the guard position last season.


Obviously there are always holes when it comes to replacing starters. On the offensive line Nebraska tries to find a way to replace 30 game appearances, including 26 starts, and a honorable mention all-conference selection at center.

Along with the two holes comes the need to develop new chemistry among the players that return that were added to fill the gaps.


Nebraska comes back with three out of the five starters to end the season last year and a ton of experience in the ranks behind them. Additionally, Nebraska will infuse a couple of junior college transfers to a couple of different positions that are either looking for a new starter or looking for some more consistency at another spot.


Brent Qvale, LT, SR (Starter) – Qvale started 13 games at left tackle last year and should be penciled in again at the spot. Qvale will be one of the senior leaders across the offensive line.

Matt Finnin, LT, JR – Finnin gives Nebraska an immediate boost at the left tackle slot by providing a physical presence in the two-deep. Finnin is one of two junior college players who should see time on the line next year.

Jake Cotton, LG, JR (Starter) – Cotton is a player that Nebraska is looking to make a solid impact this year replacing Choi. Cotton appears to finally be healthy and ready to go.

Givens Price, LG, SO – Price had about as good of a spring as you can have and finds himself in the mix for that top backup spot at left guard.

Chongo Kondolo, LG, JR – Kondolo is the other junior college offensive lineman that Nebraska fans should see on the field this year. Kondolo played tackle in junior college and likely plays guard in Lincoln.

Cole Pensick, C, SR (Starter) – Pensick was a surprise last season as a reserve at the center spot and eventually stepped up into that starting spot when Jackson was hurt.

Mark Pelini, C, JR – Pelini saw action in seven games last year which will help Nebraska when it comes to experience and wanting to be flexible at the interior positions along the offensive line.

Spencer Long, RG, SR (Starter)– A first team all-conference and second team all-American, Long will undoubtedly be the leader on the line that finally enjoys a number of players returning with experience.

Ryne Reeves, LG/RG, SO – Reeves may have been touted to play center by some out of high school, but he's settled into his natural spot of guard. Reeves provides options at both guard spots.

Jeremiah Sirles, RT, SR (Starter) – Sirles finished the 2012 season as a second team all-conference selection and along with Long cements a very strong side of the line for the Huskers.

Andrew Rodriguez, RT, SR – The Aurora (Nebr.) native made the move from OG to OT before his junior year and along with Qvale and Sirles gives Nebraska three, big-bodied seniors at the two offensive tackle spots.

Next UP:
Zach Hannon, FR – This Kansas City product has potential all along the offensive line for Nebraska. Hannon likely projects inside, but could play tackle in a pinch.

Dwayne Johnson, FR – This recruit from Texas joined the class late and is a strong run-blocker. Johnson could play either inside or outside for Nebraska after playing tackle in high school.

David Knevel, FR – This recruit from north of the border stepped on campus and was one of the biggest players on the team. Knevel, along with Finnin, resemble what you can expect to see at the tackle spots going forward at Nebraska.

Nebraska's offense looks potent and while it's due in large part because the return of many of the skill position players, it doesn't hurt Nebraska enjoys that on the offensive line as well. The line finally has the numbers that it takes to play a more grueling conference schedule in the Big Ten.

Long leads the way from his right guard position, just as he did the past two seasons (13 starts in 2011 and 14 in 2012). The former walk-on will again be in the all-conference and all-American discussion, with a Nebraska product ready to go right behind him.

Reeves is a player ebraska fans have known about since his junior year in high school. The Crete (Nebr.) product seems ready to get some meaningful snaps this year albeit behind one of the nation's best on the right side. Reeves had been working in at both the right and left guard spots trying to bolster the left spot with numbers.

Sirles has seen both sides of the line, left and right tackle, and joins Long as the most seasoned players on the line (40 game appearances with 28 starts). His back-up, Rodriguez, gives Nebraska some solid depth, with a player who has time already playing guard and tackle.

The center position will start out with Pensick taking the snaps. The son of former Husker, Dan Pensick, Cole has come a long way from a converted defensive tackle to being the starting center while at Nebraska. His backup, Mark Pelini, (the nephew of head coach Bo Pelini) has worked his way into the No. 2 spot after walking on from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney.

At left guard, Cotton wants to get on the field and stay on the field. The Lincoln (Nebr.) Southeast product has had a number of injuries shelf him over the past couple of years.

One of the players who had about as good of a spring as you can have is Price. What you have to like about Price is that he's just coming into his own and really beginning to mature after enrolling at Nebraska at the age of 16. Of course Reeves also figures into the left guard position, but so does another junior college transfer.

Kondolo played tackle for Fresno (Calif.) C.C. and showed that he had tremendous feet in pass protection and was also effective run-blocking. Kondolo could likely see action at a number of spots on the offensive line, but because of the returning players he likely gets his first look at left guard then you could see him as a swing guard and possibly all the way out to tackle.

Left tackle has been a position Nebraska has been looking for some consistency. Qvale has played big in some games and has struggled in others. He certainly has the size to play a number of other positions, but expect to see him out at tackle anchoring that left side with some serious competition behind him.

There was little doubt when Finnin committed to Nebraska that he would see the field immediately in Lincoln. The transfer has a massive frame and got some good experience playing junior college football last year in Illinois. The four-star junior college product fits in perfectly behind Qvale, providing competition within the ranks, as well as depth that Nebraska can count on.

Putting a high output offense on the field is like a muscle car with no tires. You need traction and this line has been put together, shifted around, and finally has settled into spots which should allow for the Nebraska offense to hit on all cylinders.

*** BRR Publisher Josh Harvey contributed to this report ***

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Bryan Munson has worked with Big Red Report for 11 years covering recruiting and football and has covered Nebraska recruiting for 13 years.
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