The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a great legacy of outstanding offensive linemen. The Huskers were once known for their power running game, which made having big powerful bullies in the trenches a necessity. When legendary head coach Tom Osborne and his successor Frank Solich were replaced by the athletic director Steve Peterson’s new regime the need for outstanding offensive linemen did not fade away with the power running game or the option rushing attack. New coach Bill Callahan needed big offensive linemen to protect his quarterback in his pass oriented offensive attack. The truth is that great offensive linemen are one thing no team can have enough of. Five of the 11 men on the field for an offense at any time are offensive linemen, and injuries are prevalent in the trenches, making depth at the position an absolute necessity.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have more Outland Trophy winners than any program in college football, a tradition head Coach Bo Pelini would undoubtedly like to see built upon. Nine former Huskers have received the award given to the nation’s top interior linemen. Only three of those nine were defensive linemen, one of the three being 2009 graduate and current Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh.
Men who once patrolled the trenches for the Huskers include greats like Dominic Riola, Zach Wiegert, Aaron Taylor, Will Shields, Dean Steinkuhler, and the only two time Outland Trophy winner Dave Rimington. What these men represent is toughness and exactly what the members of Huskers Nation want to see from the Husker football team.
This season, the Nebraska football team suffered an early departure of a preseason all American and an individual whom the coaches had hoped may help fill trophy cases for the program when senior Spencer Long injured his knee. The team and the staff were well aware that they would be losing Long, most likely to the NFL, at the beginning of the season but regrettably his unfortunate departure was premature eliminating him from any post season awards. The instate Hero from Elkhorn Nebraska will truly be missed and is yet another key husker who must be replaced in 2014.
The coaching staff may have found a replacement for Long and potentially a young man who could help add to the shining legacy of great offensive linemen at Nebraska in Nick Gates. The young man has a long way to go to prove that his name deserves to be mentioned along with Long’s. If Gates desires to have his name mentioned in the same regard as Remington he has mountainous feats in front of him.
Gates was a highly sought after recruit and the Huskers were very fortunate to land him considering the competition they had in the recruiting process. Perennial powerhouses like the Oregon Ducks, the Texas A&M Aggies, the UCLA Bruins, the Baylor Bears and the Alabama Crimson Tide were all very interested in Gates. Some even sending their top representatives as recruiters to Las Vegas Nevada in hopes of securing a commitment. Eventually, the Huskers won the recruiting game and it would seem they have a great piece to build around for the future.