They won't all look like Gabe Carimi, that's safe to say.
But as the Wisconsin left tackle accepted his Outland Trophy on Thursday night, he stood as a possible reminder of the kind of offensive linemen that might be waiting for Nebraska in the Big Ten.
Carimi last month was one of seven Big Ten offensive linemen to be on the first, second, third or fourth units of the Phil Steele All-America teams. The 6-foot-7, 327-pounder also is the fourth Big Ten lineman to win the Outland in the last eight seasons.
“It's traditionally been that way,” said Bob Bostad, the Wisconsin offensive line coach. “There's a lot of good players. I think we've got some really good players coming up in our program that I look at and say, ‘If that guy did it and that guy did it, this guy's got a chance.' “
Carimi no doubt was special as a four-year starter, though, and he was honored for his senior season at the annual Outland Trophy banquet at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel on Thursday night.
“He wanted to be the best,” Bostad said, “and that's what drove him more than anything.”
Carimi follows Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, 2006), Greg Eslinger (Minnesota, 2005) and Robert Gallery (Iowa, 2003) as Big Ten linemen who have picked up their Outlands in Omaha. Bostad handed Carimi his trophy after showering praise on the native of Cottage Grove, Wis.
“Thanks, Coach,” Carimi said. “I didn't know you liked me that much.”
How couldn't he?
After Thomas graduated, Carimi immediately assumed his spot at left tackle as a redshirt freshman and never left. Last season he anchored a hard-nosed line that led Wisconsin to 11 wins and the Rose Bowl.
Carimi made good on the potential that Bostad first saw during his redshirt season in 2006.
“He had some suddenness to him,” Bostad said. “He had some good skills that you really look for. Not polished by any means, but he had an idea of what he was trying to do and what he wanted to do.”
Although projected as a first-round pick in the NFL draft, Carimi said last weekend that the knock on him is going to be his pass protection. Some of that simply has to do with how the Badgers played in a season where they very nearly had three 1,000-yard rushers.
“I don't think it's going to be that big of an adjustment for him,” Bostad said. “I would say that's what people say because they can't find any questions.”
Carimi was the last honored Thursday night during a banquet that included former Duke lineman Mike McGee receiving the Outland Trophy he won in 1959. Also involved in the ceremony were the recipients of the Nebraska senior awards — Alex Henery (Chamberlin), Rickey Thenarse (Novak) and Niles Paul (Cletus Fischer Native Son).
Bostad said Wisconsin looks forward to NU coming into the Big Ten next season and said the Huskers should be a good fit.
“I think everybody's super excited about it,” he said. “Everybody certainly respects Nebraska. It's just a great college football program that shares some of the great things that somebody like Wisconsin does.”