Marquel Dismuke has been tested. More specifically, his patience has been tested.
For three years, the junior safety waited for his turn to be a regular starter in Nebraska's defensive backfield. And for three years, Dismuke eagerly studied from those in front of him on the depth chart.
The Nate Gerrys. The Joshua Kalus. The Aaron Williams. The Tre Neals.
"I learned a lot from every single safety that was in front of me, on and off the field," Dismuke said Wednesday.
Standing in front of Dismuke now is a prime chance to become a regular starter, quite possibly alongside junior Deontai Williams. While NU defensive backs coach Travis Fisher likes to have interchangeable parts between corner and safety, Dismuke is expected to compete for time at safety. C.J. Smith, Cam'ron Jones and the versatile JoJo Domann are among those in the mix, too.
Dismuke is hoping his work this spring — he's focusing on the basics, technique and alignments — pays off come fall. At the very least, he's being rewarded for sticking with the Huskers during a transfer-heavy era.
"It tests (your) patience a lot, honestly," Dismuke said of his first three seasons at NU. "It makes you question your game or what you want to do, but over the years I grew physically, mentally and spiritually, really. Because without God, you don't really know patience. I've just been patient, I've been praying, waiting for my time to come."
An early enrollee, the Calabasas, California, native redshirted during his first season and saw snaps in 12 games the following year, totaling 34 tackles over the final seven games in 2017.
Dismuke's workload as a sophomore was trimmed back some with the emergence of Williams and Antonio Reed. Dismuke appeared in seven games, and made nine stops.
Dismuke's two biggest plays, arguably, have come on special teams. He recovered a fumbled punt against Northern Illinois in 2017 and blocked a punt against Illinois last fall.
It was special teams where Dismuke saw a chance to show what he can do as a football player.
"Every time I get on the field, it's all about me being who I want to be and being physical and wanting to make plays on special teams," he said. "One play or two plays, whenever I get on the field, I want to make plays.
"It's all about a mentality on special teams, because it's just one play," Dismuke added. "You really just have to go bust your butt on that one play. If you're thinking like, 'Oh, special teams is just special teams,' it's really not. That play can change the whole game."
Fisher said he's been impressed with Dismuke's attention to detail.
"That’s what’s most impressive for him right now is he’s done a great job … coming in and getting extra film time when most of the time people are probably in class or asleep, he comes back and gets an extra session in, most of the time by himself," Fisher said. "He’s been a great leader on the field and in the classroom."
Dismuke said there was never any reason to get down on himself when he was lower on the depth chart. The key, he said, was learning from it and learning from the veteran safeties.
Dismuke was part of the Calabasas flavor that included quarterback Tristan Gebbia and wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Tyjon Lindsey. Those players are elsewhere, but Dismuke is still in Lincoln, aiming to carry the Calabasas flag.
"It's just the type of man I am," Dismuke said. "I'm going to stick it out, ride it out and hope for the best."