When you’re the youngest among four boys who all became college offensive linemen, perhaps it’s not surprising that you develop a little spunk.
It’s essentially necessary to survive all of the wrestling matches and roughhousing.
Factor in that Will Farniok is also the smallest of four — at 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, it’s still quite a stretch to call him small — and nothing’s come particularly easy.
So when Farniok, a redshirt freshman for the Nebraska football team and now the odds-on favorite to earn the starting center job come Aug. 31’s season opener against South Alabama, says he’s not afraid, one tends to believe him.
“With my older brothers and that, I’ve never been scared to be loud and make commands and own up to it,” he said Wednesday.
An extra 35 pounds sure doesn’t hurt, either. Farniok, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native who was originally recruited by Mike Riley’s staff and stayed committed when Scott Frost and company took over and he got to know Husker offensive line coach Greg Austin, showed up to campus in January 2018 at about 260 pounds.
Now, he’s right about 300.
“I mean it is kind of weird now,” Farniok said with a smile. “As I was going into (college), that’s where I was headed and (what) I was planning on.”
“Obviously he’s gotten a lot bigger,” sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “I’ve known him since I first got here, we enrolled early together and lived together. He’s grown a lot. He really took it upon himself this offseason to get bigger, get a great understanding of the playbook, and I think he’s been doing great things for us this fall.”
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With that has come an opportunity to sew up a starting job. Redshirt freshman Cam Jurgens looked like the favorite this spring, but he’s been limited in preseason camp due to an injury. Other candidates like redshirt freshman walk-on AJ Forbes and freshman Ethan Piper have taken mostly No. 2 or No. 3 repetitions in the periods of practice open to reporters so far in camp.
Before camp started, Austin praised Farniok for improving his “command presence,” as he played more and more at a spot that comes with considerable decision-making and communication.
"He's sure of the schemes and now he's becoming more sure of himself, sure of his techniques and his ability," Austin said. "You can just see him getting more comfortable."
Farniok, for his part, said it comes naturally.
“Just knowing that these guys are going to trust you when you make your call,” he said. “You make it loud and proud and they’re going to see your confidence, they’re going to hear it in the way you say it, and they’re all going to know, ‘OK, this is what we’re doing and that’s what we need to do.’ If you make it loud, you never know what can happen, but if you yell it out and make sure everyone’s on the same page, you can’t be wrong at that point. Just make sure you’re going hard.”
Austin said this week that he has not tinkered much with a top group that currently features left tackle Brenden Jaimes, left guard Trent Hixson, Farniok, right guard Boe Wilson and right tackle Matt Farniok, Will’s older brother.
There may be some going forward, but at the moment the youngest Farniok brother has a pretty good hold on the center position. Jurgens may be back at full speed at some point in the near future, but at this point Farniok looks like Nebraska’s man in the middle.
“Just working with guys, you start to know and trust them and it starts to click,” he said. “You just get better together and everyone’s just stepping up and working hard.”