LINCOLN, Neb. – In December of 2013, this reporter skipped Nebraska’s bowl practices in Jacksonville and spent a couple days in Orlando. I wanted to check out Nebraska offensive line commitment Tanner Farmer, who was participating in Under Armour All-American week.
When it came to Farmer, I had heard good things. What I saw was better than advertised.
Farmer dominated practices. Yes, dominated. There wasn’t a single defensive lineman who got the best of him.
Don’t believe me? You can read this story to see what a few defensive linemen said on the record.
Farmer was a three-star prospect at the time. I fought for a fourth star. He didn’t get it.
The senior was weighing 275 to 280 pounds in Orlando. A nationally ranked heavy weight high school wrestler, Farmer was in midseason when it came to the mat, and had slimmed down from his 315-gridiron weight during his senior year.
Fast-forward to last season and Farmer was weighing a whopping 335 pounds as a redshirt freshman. The former Illinois prep admits – he likes to eat.
But it was in that moment when he realized, he wasn’t going anywhere. A second to third string offensive lineman, Farmer wasn’t climbing the depth chart. He was stuck in neutral.
So after the season Farmer went to offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh with a simple question. What could he do to climb the depth chart?
“I just started to game plan from there,” said Farmer.
The game plan was simple. To get back on the same regimen he was on in high school during his senior year.
It meant getting back on the mats.
After a 5-1 heavyweight campaign for Nebraska this winter, Farmer is slimmer – weighing in around 295 pounds. Knee pain he felt in 2015 - gone. He’s also quicker on his feet. After just three practices, it appears a return to the wrestling room did only positive things for Farmer when it came to football.
“He’s got a chance to start,” said Cavanaugh. “That isn’t up to me. It’s like that Missouri license play – show me. Everyday they have a chance to show me.
“He’s moving better than a year ago. A year ago he was thinking a lot, which can make you methodical, but I also thought he was heavy. He’s moving like a different guy with the body he has now.”
Farmer hopes to stay around 295 pounds, but plans to continue to cut fat for muscle. During the spring and fall he will strictly focus on football. During the other portions of the offseason, he will also continue to wrestle.