FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT …
BEING A NEBRASKA GRADUATE STUDENT FOOTBALL PLAYER
(AS TOLD BY OFFENSIVE LINEMAN JEREMIAH SIRLES)
1. There are 10 players on the Nebraska football team who have earned their degree. Graduate students are still required to take nine credit hours to be eligible.
“It’s really nice being graduated, actually, and being able to not really focus on school a lot. I’m only in nine (credit) hours – I’m in a bowling class, a public-speaking class and a coaching class. It’s nice not to have that really heavy school workload, which gives me a lot more time to focus on film and football. Coaching effectiveness (class) is just about what makes a good high school coach, what makes a good little league coach. Our teacher used to be a volleyball coach at the high school level, so just things that she’s learned and helping us be better coaches.”
2. Young players look up to the older players who have graduated before their final season, and some players set that as a goal.
“I took 17 hours my first two semesters, and then I took six hours every summer. Then I started taking 12 hours in the fall and spring and graduated in exactly four years. That was a goal of mine, to graduate in four years once I found out I was redshirting, to make sure I could have that fifth year to focus on football. My degree is in management. I’ve worked with Opendorse, which was a startup company with (former Husker) Blake Lawrence. I’d love to go back and work with them and keep building that. Eventually, I want to do my own company, but I don’t know in what area. I think it’s fun to build something from the ground up.”
3. Graduate players can work on a second major, work toward a master’s degree or take undergraduate or graduate classes as an unclassified graduate student. Offensive lineman Brent Qvale graduated in May, and should be able to complete his master’s degree in leadership next semester.
“Brent’s in a master’s program and is going to finish next semester, so that’s pretty cool that he’ll be able to get his master’s degree for free, basically. He earned it with how hard he works with school.”
4. Players who are close to graduating are only required to take the courses they need to finish their degree, which means some players may only have to take one class their final season.
“Spencer and Jake Long only need three hours to graduate, so they’re only in three hours this semester. That’s a better situation than me, but I wanted to make sure I had that degree done, because you never know. It’s good to have that degree, because you never want something to happen that last semester. I was on track to gradaute with 12 hours last spring, so why put it off? (Spencer and Jake) are only in one class. The class is cancer biology, so it’s not like it’s an easy class by any means, but it’s still only one class. They’re both pre-med.”
5. Nine more players are expected to graduate after the season, and academics is a big emphasis by coach Bo Pelini.
“Bo always talks about how important academics are, and how we’re not just here to play football. He holds us to an extremely high standard when it comes to academics. We have to go to class, we have to get good grades. He gets weekly reports on what our grades are like and who is missing, and if you miss class you miss practice. It’s that simple, and that’s what makes Bo one of my favorite coaches I’ve played for, is he’s not just here to win games, he’s here to make us good men.”
Degree in hand
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Nebraska's 10 graduate students rank third among all FBS schools, trailing only 12 grads for both Louisiana Tech and Virginia Tech. Kicker Pat Smith joined the NU program as a Western Illinois grad. Here are the other Husker grads, when they graduated and their majors.
Cole Pensick: Agribusiness
C.J. Zimmerer: Criminology and criminal justice
Jason Ankrah: Child, youth and family studies
Stanley Jean-Baptiste: Sociology
Brent Qvale: Nutrition, exercise and health science
Jeremiah Sirles: Management
Andrew Green: Ethnic studies
Thad Randle: Ethnic studies
Mo Seisay: Child, youth and family studies
-- Brent C. Wagner