Brenden Jaimes checked off a rare box in 2017, becoming just the fifth true freshman in Nebraska history to start on the offensive line.
Now, he’s asked to fulfill another sizable task: serving as the cornerstone of the Husker offensive line.
Jaimes, a sophomore from Austin, Texas, is playing left tackle for offensive line coach Greg Austin this spring and is the clear front-runner to serve as a to-be-determined right-handed quarterback’s blindside protector.
It’s actually a far more comfortable spot for Jaimes.
“That’s what I played in high school,” he said. “Last year when I played right, it was a little different. I just wanted to help the team out any way I could and now I’m on the left side and I feel a lot better.”
Jaimes started nine games as a freshman and showed promise through expected ups and downs. He said he added 10 pounds over the winter and now stands at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds. The goal, according to Jaimes, is to push toward changing the first number in his weight to a three by the time the season rolls around.
The added mass is already paying dividends, though.
“I can tell and not in a bad way,” he assured. “I feel like I put on good weight and I think it’s really beneficial to me and the whole offensive line.”
Senior Tanner Farmer, who played next to Jaimes at right guard for a chunk of 2017 before suffering a high ankle sprain, said he sees not only a bigger player, but a more mature one, too.
“I think him just understanding the game more,” said Farmer, who’s splitting time between guard and center this spring. “Last year, he was baptized in fire. I was playing right next to him and I would have to help him out a little bit with calls and stuff like that. Sometimes there was a little bit of yelling back and forth, but I feel like he’s really maturing and learning more and more about the offensive scheme and knowing his individual responsibilities.”
Added Jaimes, “Coming from a good high school program and then playing as a freshman in the Big Ten, it’s a big step up. It really humbled me and it just showed that I have to work just as hard as everybody else to get on the field.”
Jaimes isn’t just on the field anymore. He’s the odds-on favorite to be the starting left tackle at Nebraska. He likes the scheme. He thinks the group is doing a good job of picking up what Austin is teaching. He likes the early chemistry he’s building with left guard Jerald Foster.
“I think as a whole we’re doing really good,” Jaimes surmised. “It’s definitely a different tempo for us, but we’re getting used to it, taking it day by day and getting better.”