Nebraska continued its success in the 500-mile radius Saturday afternoon, as Sioux Falls, South Dakota, offensive line prospect Will Farniok committed to the Huskers.
Farniok is Nebraska’s first offensive line recruit for Coach Mike Cavanaugh in the 2018 class. He will likely play the all-important center position at the collegiate level. Farniok will be entering his third season as a starter at center for Washington High School next fall. As a junior, Farniok earned first-team all-state honors while helping lead the Warriors to a 12-0 record and the South Dakota Class 11AAA championship.
Farniok is currently listed as a 3-star recruit with an 83.0 rating in Hail Varsity’s recruiting composite rankings.
Who Else Was Interested
Farniok and Nebraska had been linked together since 2015 when the Huskers offered the then sophomore. Not only was Nebraska one of the first schools to jump in after Will, they also had the added bonus of landing his older brother Matt in the 2016 recruiting class. All of these connections to Nebraska didn’t stop other programs from trying to swoop in and steal Farniok away however. The most serious contender for Farniok’s commitment was Iowa, but Nebraska scored a huge recruiting victory over its border-state rival early in the process.
Farniok measures in at 6-3 and 250 pounds. Farniok has a great frame for an interior offensive linemen, now he just needs to fill it out. He has a pretty well-developed lower body at this point, giving him a good base to work with when he arrives in Lincoln. His upper body still needs some work, as Farniok needs to add some good weight and muscle to fill out his upper body. Farniok is never going to be a 6-6, 325 pound offensive lineman, but after a couple years in Nebraska’s strength program I would expect him to measure in at 6-3 and around 280 or 285 pounds.
1. His on-field demeanor and football IQ. Farniok plays with a huge chip on his shoulder on film, as he is a finisher that consistently plays through the echo of the whistle and drives opposing defenders into the turf. Farniok is also more than willing to play the bully when going into contact with smaller linebackers, as he consistently locks them up and drives them out of the play. Besides playing with a nasty demeanor, Farniok also demonstrates tremendous football IQ from his center position. Farniok, who is the youngest of four Farniok boys that played or are playing offensive line at Power 5 schools, has clearly picked up some tips from his older brothers, as he already shows the ability to consistently combo with fellow offensive linemen and also work through defensive sets without over-extending himself. The two things that coach Cavanaugh looks for in offensive linemen are guys that are tough and smart. Farniok fits that mold perfectly.
2. His footwork as a run blocker. Farniok has very clean feet as a run blocker, evidence that he has received very sound coaching throughout his development. Farniok does a tremendous job of getting his drive and follow step down before defensive linemen can react, allowing him to deliver the initial blow and control the action as a run blocker. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Farniok’s footwork is that he has already shown the ability to effectively snap and step, a vital tool for any kid that plans to play center at the collegiate level.
3. His athleticism at the second level. Farniok is extremely comfortable at the second level as a run blocker, as he does a tremendous job of staying under control when entering contact with opposing linebackers. Farniok is at his best when going against 4-3 schemes that allow him a free run to the second level, as he shows good eyes and is able to consistently track down opposing linebackers and drive them into the turf. Farniok is also very comfortable pulling from his center position, as he shows a good bucket step technique that allows him to stay under control on the perimeter as a run blocker. Nebraska has struggled to find a center that was effective at the second level since 2008, so this is a very promising development on the recruiting trail for Nebraska.
1. Adding weight to his frame. The simple fact is that Farniok isn’t big enough to be an effective offensive lineman at the collegiate level at his current weight. Farniok needs to add at least 15 pounds before he can seriously contend for playing time at Nebraska, and he needs to add strength in order to be more effective in the run game and hold his ground better as a pass blocker. This likely won’t be a huge issue, as Farniok has the frame to add weight, he just needs to spend some time in Nebraska’s weight program and at the training table.
2. His hand punch/hand placement. Farniok has really good feet as a blocker, but his hands still need some work. There are moments where Farniok catches the initial blow from opposing defensive linemen in the chest instead of striking the initial blow with his hands. This forces Farniok to play from a less powerful and less athletic position, which limits his effectiveness. Improving his hand punch and hand placement will help Farniok become an even more effective presence in the run game at Lincoln. Improving his hand punch will also help Farniok be more effective when going against odd fronts. Farniok struggled at times on film when defenders lined up directly across from him, so improving his hand punch will be a vital part of his development to make him more effective against 3-4 squads.
3. His competition level. This isn’t Farniok’s fault, but he hasn’t seen the level of competition that some other prospects have. Farniok hasn’t played very many FBS-caliber defensive tackles during his time in high school, so he will need to adjust to the increased strength and speed of defenders when he arrives in Lincoln. This will likely mean that Farniok will experience some growing pains when he arrives in Lincoln, but after a redshirt season he should be adjusted and ready to compete for playing time.
This was a very important recruiting victory for Nebraska, as they locked in a solid 500-mile-radius recruit and kept him out of Iowa’s clutches in the process. Farniok isn’t the biggest or strongest offensive line prospect in the country, but he is smart, tough and has solid athleticism, all vital aspects of being an effective center at the collegiate level. Farniok will certainly need a redshirt season to add weight to his frame and adjust to the increased speed, but after a redshirt year he should be able to effectively back up John Raridon at center and be groomed to start by the time he is a junior.
College Comparison: Georgia center Brandon Kublanow
Pro Comparison: Former Arizona Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein