The 2019 season has officially come to an end, which means its time to turn our sights toward 2020. With Nebraska locking in the vast majority of its recruiting class during the early signing period, now is a good time to take stock of where the roster stands.
We’ve already covered the skill positions, so it’s the offensive line’s turn now.
Offense: Backfield | Pass-Catchers
Offensive Line (16 Scholarship, 13 Walk-On)
Returners: SR Brendan Jaimes, SR Matt Farniok, SR Boe Wilson, SR Christian Gaylord, JR Broc Bando, JR Matt Sichterman, SO Cam Jurgens, SO Will Farniok, rFR Ethan Piper, rFR Bryce Benhart, rFR Matthew Anderson, rFR Michael Lynn, rFR Brant Banks, rFR Jimmy Fritzsche, FR Turner Corcoran, JR Trent Hixson (walk-on), JR Hunter Miller (walk-on), JR Josh Wegener (walk-on), SO AJ Forbes (walk-on), SO Ian Boerkircher (walk-on), rFR Riley Moses (walk-on), rFR Garrett Nuss (walk-on), rFR Noah Stafursky (walk-on)
Newcomers: FR Turner Corcoran, FR Alex Conn, SO Nouredin Nouili (walk-on), FR Blayden Bayless (walk-on), FR Keegan Menning (walk-on), FR Eli Simonson (walk-on), FR Xavier Trevino (walk-on)
Departures: John Raridon (retirement), Nick Virka (walk-on), Mitchell Balenger (walk-on), Collin Shefke (walk-on)
Only eight players remain in the offensive line room from before Scott Frost’s staff arrived in Lincoln. Greg Austin has almost completely flipped that room, and he’s done it while bringing some real balance between tackle, guard and center.
Nebraska has six true tackles on scholarship (Brenden Jaimes, Christian Gaylord, Bryce Benhart, Matthew Anderson, Jimmy Fritzsche and Brant Banks) plus guys like Matt Farniok, Broc Bando, Michael Lynn, Turner Corcoran and Alex Conn who could play either tackle or guard. Gaylord received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after missing last season with an injury.
Nebraska has Cam Jurgens at center, Boe Wilson and Matt Sichterman at guard and Ethan Piper and Will Farniok who can play either center or guard. That’s 16 scholarship players plus walk-ons like Trent Hixson (2019’s starter at left guard), AJ Forbes, Hunter Miller and Josh Wegener providing quality depth.
Nebraska brought in a big group of walk-ons to add even more depth, and that includes Colorado State transfer Nouredin Nouili. The German native graduated from Norris High School and started seven games at guard fro the Rams as a true freshman.
For a team returning all five starters on the line, there’s actually a good bit of uncertainty at the rim. There’s a lot of competition in that room and ideally, either guys will have to take a big step forward to keep their jobs or they’ll get replaced.
Jaimes is entrenched at left tackle and Scott Frost has established that Cam Jurgens is his guy at center (and he did show a good deal of progress from the start of the season to the end in his first full season at the position). Boe Wilson and Matt Farniok are both multi-year starters, though Farniok has said he’s open to moving inside to guard. If that happens and he earns a starting job, he’ll either be bumping Wilson or Hixson from the lineup. Piper is one to watch at that guard battle as well.
If Farniok does move inside, it will probably mean Bryce Benhart is ready to play at right tackle after a redshirt year. With Gaylord out of commission, Bando emerged as the back-up left tackle and held his own fairly well in the snaps he got last season.
With Gaylord returning, the only player Nebraska lost to graduation is Nick Virka, a walk-on who never saw the field. However, last week, John Raridon, a scholarship player heading into his redshirt senior year, decided to retire from football. Mitchell Balenger, a walk-on originally from Maryland, entered his name into the transfer portal while walk-on sophomore Collin Sheik’s name is no longer on the team roster page.