Riley just behind Beamer in SN rankings

Riley just behind Beamer in SN rankings

We're interested in what Nebraska fans think of The Sporting News' latest rankings of college football head coaches.

Recruiting: Husker O-line gains a Farmer

2013-06-11T19:15:00Z 2013-07-07T23:38:15Z Recruiting: Husker O-line gains a FarmerBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

The coach can still picture the freshman pedaling into town for practice on his bicycle, wearing his football pads.

"It was a couple-mile stretch," said Jimmy Warnecke. "I don't want to exaggerate too much, but it was a hike."

Still, the big kid with the five-star name — Tanner Farmer just sounds like he was meant to be a Husker offensive lineman, doesn't he? — kept spinning those bicycle tires that summer.

He was going somewhere.

Where exactly? That matter cleared up on Tuesday, when the offensive lineman from the small town of Highland, Ill., verbally committed to Nebraska while in Lincoln for one of the Husker summer football camp sessions.

"It just seemed like it was meant for me," Farmer said of the place.

Back home, a proud coach.

"He's very deserving of all his opportunities," Warnecke said. "He's created them himself."

The fourth pledge in the 2014 Husker class, Farmer had other offers from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois State and Western Michigan.

But it was Nebraska that scored the victory in what Husker coaches are hoping will be a very fruitful recruiting week, culminating with the ultra-important Big Red Weekend.

"… More blasts coming!" defensive coordinator John Papuchis tweeted in reference to that weekend ahead.

Time will tell on that, but Farmer was a good start.

Highland's coach may be biased but he's quite certain Nebraska got a steal.

"He's a for-sure thing," Warnecke said. "There's no doubt about it."

The coach says it's not just the lineman's strength. He also has good feet. And brains. He plans to major in pre-med in college.

Standing 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, Farmer is likely an offensive guard or center prospect for Nebraska. He's incredibly strong for his age or any age -- "freakishly strong," according to his coach.

Farmer recently bench pressed 225 pounds 33 times. To put that in perspective, that would have put him in the top 10 on the bench press among all the participants at the most recent NFL Combine. His max on the bench is 430 and he has a squat max of 650. He just turned 17 in March.

Farmer used that strength to his advantage on the wrestling mat. As a junior, he won the school's first state title in the sport as a heavyweight.

He had 39 matches as a junior. He won 39 times.

"Wrestling has helped me with my footwork. It also helps me with my hand fighting. With leverage," Farmer said. "It's helped me with everything really."

But it isn't always easy to gain attention in a rural town of about 10,000 people. "Cornfields and stuff," Warnecke describes.

Farmer is rated a three-star prospect by all the recruiting sites but flew under the radar of many programs until just recently. It was because of his location as much as anything, his coach thinks.

Apparently Husker offensive line coach John Garrison had the same opinion.

"(Garrison) said, 'Hey, if Tanner were at a school in Texas, he'd be recruited by everyone in the nation,'" Warnecke recalled.

But Farmer began to move onto more teams' radar screens in recent weeks. Offers started to come in after a very strong showing at a Rivals' camp in O'Fallon, Ill., in mid-April. He was named O-line MVP at that camp.

"When he started going to Rivals' camps and putting those so-called four-star and five-star guys on their butts, it really started turning some heads," Warnecke said.

The lineman is now one of just 150 prospects invited to attend "The Opening" camp at the Nike headquarters in Oregon in early July.

Then Warnecke will have one more fall to utilize the big man, who stars at left tackle on his high school team. The power play to his side has become the team's bread and butter.

While Warnecke always knows what to expect out of the lineman on the football field, he honestly wasn't sure where Farmer was leaning in his college decision heading into this week.

He had just visited Missouri late last week and loved it. "I mean, really impressed," Farmer said.

"So when I got a call today that he had committed to Nebraska, he must have just been blown away from everything up there."

Farmer was blown away enough that he sounded as solid as a commit can sound in early June.

No more recruiting trips for him, Farmer says.

"I'm done. I'm happy with where I am. I will be looking nowhere else."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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