Pensick's dream come true

There wasn't any question that there would be a little more of a hometown feel with Tom Osborne as the A.D. But it probably would have been impossible to see just how it would translate to the actual football team. It seemed to once, when Nebraska got Central Catholic (West Post, NE) and now it rings home again. Welcome to the first commit for 2009, Cole Pensick.

You could have almost cued the laughter from the crowd when Dan Pensick, the father of Cole Pensick, told his son that even though he just got the offer from Nebraska for next year, it was his decision as to whether or not he would attend the land of the big red.

After all, it's not like Dan wasn't a three-year letter winner there on the defensive line. It isn't like he was actually drafted from Nebraska in 1980 by the Kansas City Chiefs. And it's not like he played with Barney Cotton, one of the newest members of the Husker coaching staff.

Nope, no connections there. Go ahead son, you can go wherever you like.

The suspense, if there was even any pretense of it, didn't last long, Cole telling Husker head coach Bo Pelini, he's "N."

And sure, dad said what a good dad should say, but ask Cole who was happier about him being a future Husker between himself and the former Husker, he still isn't quite sure.

"I think he was pretty excited. He told me I could do whatever I wanted to and that it was my decision, but I think he's pretty happy I am going to go to Nebraska ," Cole said.

It's an old story, but for each kid who gets to experience it, it's a story that never gets old: kid grows up in Nebraska , watches Nebraska football and longs to one day run out of the tunnel to the local fan base, dubbed affectionately "The Sea of Red."

That's the dream and now Cole knows he's going to be living it not a very long time from now. "I guess a lot of kids think about it and I did. But to know that it's a reality, I don't think it's really set in just yet," Pensick said. "It's getting more clear by the minute, the more I think about it, that I am going to be a Husker."

This road to Lincoln, the same as many others which have led to the inside of Memorial Stadium, winds along the busied streets of Lincoln itself. There are plenty stories of kids who make it to Nebraska from the windswept rural areas of the state. But Cole's story hits a little closer to home.

A soon-to-be graduate of Lincoln Northeast, Pensick has spent his prep days mowing the lawn, as they say, paving the way for Northeast running backs. And on defense, he tried to stop other backs from doing the same. For his efforts, he was voted Super State this last season by the Lincoln Journal Star and first-team All State by the Omaha World Herald.

And now he can add "future Husker" to that list of achievements.

Not bad for a lineman who many might have looked at, Pensick just a shade under 6-2 and just a shade over 245, and said that when you look at him at the Division 1-A level….you don't know what he's going to do.

Centers are supposed to be 6-3 and defensive linemen, well they are supposed to be at least that big as well.

Right?

Not according to Pensick, and he's got pretty good evidence to back that up. "We were at a banquet in Omaha for high school football and that was where they were also having the Outland Trophy presentation," Cole said. "I got to stand right next to Glen Dorsey, and he was a lot bigger than I was, but we were almost exactly the same height.

"It was a little surprising, because everyone looks huge on TV. But seeing that we were close to the same height, you just realize that what everyone says about how tall you are supposed to be, isn't always true.

"Look at him."

Pensick might not have to grow vertically very much to match the all-everything defensive tackle from LSU. But he's looking at close to a full 40 pounds to even get in the zip code of just how big that eventual first-rounder is. No problem for Cole. He's ready for that, and he's also ready to be part of a brand new team.

It's hard to say if Cole's father felt much the same as Cole feels right now, thinking about the Nebraska he's about to attend. Is it like the old Nebraska ? Does it have that same homey feel? Does everyone feel closer to the program than they have in more than a few years?

Cole can't speak to what was, but he can speak to what is, and what is, is a new era under another head coach. At Nebraska , that would have at one time been blasphemy to think that bringing in a new coach would help a place so proud of its continuity.

It depends on the guy, though, and the one Cole sees taking over the program, is the kind of person and coach, he thinks can lead this team back to where it belongs. "He's energetic and you can tell he's excited about being a coach. You can just hear it in how he talks," Cole said. "But when I watched that national title game on TV, I saw him jumping up and down every time his defense made a great play.

"A coach like that you know will give everything he has for you, and as a player, it makes you want to give five times more than that for him. I think Nebraska will do great things under him."

Cole's planning on being part of that, of course, thinking first to the defensive side of the ball, perhaps following in father's footsteps a little more. But Cole also said that he could be moved to offense to play center.

But he's a Nebraska kid. And scholarship or no, accolades or no, he's only got one attitude toward his days with his future team.

"I don't care where I play. I want to keep playing football and I can't wait to play it there," he said. "I don't know when it's going to really set in as to just what all of this means. I just know it means a lot to all of us right now."


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