Defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

Maliek Collins never redshirted. That's one of the things that is so ultra-impressive about the dominance the Husker defensive tackle is displaying this spring.

He's not just a junior. He's a third-year junior.

But most players need that redshirt season. Offensive guard Tanner Farmer, for example, said Monday he's glad he got that season on the scout team last year.

Part of the reason he's glad is because it allowed him to learn lessons going against Mr. Collins and Vincent Valentine every day.

"It's something I really needed. ... It was very eye-opening. I remember in high school I didn't have problems with moving guys. I come out here and these guys are just as big as I am -- some are even bigger, like Big V. They don't move."

Farmer said it forced him to rely more on his technique than just his strength. Strength alone was enough in high school. Not here.

When it comes to Collins, Farmer calls him "a freak of nature with his athletic ability and being as big as he is." Beyond that, "he's got great hands. It's hard to get your hands on the guy, because he's always got his hands inside and he's swiping them and moving them back and forth."

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Farmer, a high school championship wrestler, can tell Collins was a championship wrestler himself.

No, the two haven't wrestled yet, though that clearly needs to happen and be videotaped and then distributed for all to see.

Until then, the battles will have to come between the hash marks. Farmer said he has a lot of work to do on the little things still. "Right now, a lot of the guys on our line are a lot better at the little things than I am, and I just need to keep working at it."

If you don't master the little things, he learned quickly you'll get blown up by guys like Collins and Valentine.

Better to have those beginning lessons taught during a redshirt season behind the curtain.

Said Farmer: "My father, in his previous experiences, had told me that redshirting was something I should probably do and it would help me mature. And it did a lot."


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