Spencer Long and Cole Pensick wanted the same thing: The clearest and fastest path to getting on the football field.
So that was their mentality after the 2009 football season when the Nebraska staff decided to move them from the defensive line to the offensive side. They never thought much at the time about whether it would work out like it has for them.
Pensick and Long are side by side this season as the Huskers’ starting center and right guard, respectively. For Long, it’s his third year as a starter, including when he was a second-team All-American as a junior.
It validates the move, no doubt.
“At the time, (it was) wherever the coaches thought was best,” Pensick said. “I just wanted to get on the field. I just wanted to play.”
Long said he didn’t ask many questions when they came to him with the idea. He didn’t even ask if the plans were for it to be permanent or not.
“It’s kind of what you’ve got to do as a walk-on,” he said. “I listened to them, and it turned out great for me. I owe a lot to Coach G.”
Coach G is NU assistant John Garrison, who was running the scout-team defensive line in 2009 when it included Long and Pensick. Unknown to him at the time was that he would become the Huskers’ offensive line coach shortly after he watched Long and Pensick move over.
But Garrison said he thought they both had good athleticism, great footwork and played well with their hands.
Could Garrison predict that the two would be anchoring the middle of the Huskers’ offensive line right now?
“I knew it was going to happen,” he said, smiling. “We just needed some time to work with them.”