Broc Bando was diagnosed with mononucleosis the day before Nebraska’s second game last season, against Fordham. It would have been his first career start in the offensive line, at right tackle.
Add to that the rhinovirus and bronchitis, and, well, you get the picture.
In the week following the mono diagnosis, Bando’s weight dropped from 305 to 275.
His mom told him needed to eat.
He said he couldn’t.
“I thought I was dying,” Bando said following practice on Monday. “I was just laying there, kind of watching TV. But basically dead, bedridden; it was terrible.”
As the saying goes, however, you can’t keep a good man down.
Good man? Bando has been on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll six times. He’s completed an undergraduate degree in business administration and is finishing a master’s degree. And he’s been on the Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer Citizenship Teams three times each.
He’s also back for a sixth season on the team, a likely starter at right guard.
Starting is speculation, of course. Nothing has been released. But it’s reasonable to expect.
“I’m feeling comfortable at right guard now, feeling fluid, just natural now,” he said.
Under line coach Donovan Raiola, “comfortable” means willing to compete and improve daily. “He’s setting a real hard standard for us that we need to achieve every day,” said Bando. “He’s raising it every day. I just love it. He’s pushing us to be the best people we can be, on and off the field.”
Adjusting to Raiola in the spring wasn’t easy. Quite the contrary.
“I’d have to say no, because that standard was so much higher,” Bando said. “Big culture shock and change, of course. Change is hard . . . to get used too . . . but once we got used to it and started trusting each other, and as a coach, us as players, it’s a great bond now.”
Raiola “is very demanding,” said Bando. “But that’s what we need right now.”
The line has become a “band of brothers,” he said.
Bando is enjoying every minute, however tough it is. This is his last go-around, sixth season, something he had to think about, especially given the mono issue. When he was bedridden, watching the Fordham and Buffalo—which he also expected to start—games from home, “I was like, ‘Damn, this is probably my last season,’” Bando said.
Deep down, though, “I didn’t feel like it was,” he said.
He saw action in the final eight games last season, primarily on special teams. In the Iowa game, however, he saw extensive action on the line as well.
He gave coming back for a sixth season some thought, but knew he wanted to, he said. “It helps having Trent (Hixson) also here, the sixth year,” said Bando.
“So I don’t feel like the oldest guy.”
Hixson is the logical successor to Cameron Jurgens at center, though again, that’s speculation, based to some degree on watching line drills, briefly, Monday. The line might—with an emphasis on “might”—include Hixson at center, Bando at right guard, Bryce Benhart at right tackle, Turner Corcoran at left guard and Teddy Prochazka at left tackle.
Corcoran and Prochazka were held out in the spring. On Monday, offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was complimentary of Corcoran and Prochazka but wouldn’t say they were set on the left side. “We’re mixing guys around, making sure we get enough depth,” said Whipple.
“I’ve always done that in case something happens—going to right guard, or a guy might move to right tackle some—but we’ve stayed pretty healthy through fall camp.”
Bando said Corcoran was playing left guard, “but I don’t want to get too much into that,” meaning who has been lining up where. But Corcoran is “doing a good job. Love what he’s doing.
“Loves to fight, all that. Fighting to finish, I should say, not fighting, fighting,” said Bando.
Corcoran, a sophomore, and Hixson are providing leadership in the line, Bando said.
As the center, Hixson is “always being vocal, each play,” said Bando.
“The offense goes through him, so it’s natural for him to be a leader right now. He’s doing a great job, love ‘em, being my sixth-year buddy. It’s great.”
There was a time, however brief, when Bando wondered if he would have a sixth year, much less finish the fifth. Now “it’s going by quick already. What is it, practice five? It’s flying by.”
And when it’s over, “I’m going to miss it,” he said.”
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.