LINCOLN — The Gator Bowl concluded Jeremiah Sirles' time as a Nebraska football player, so the offensive lineman is looking at the next 10 days as some bonus minutes put back on the clock for him.
And Sirles will savor all of them.
The fifth-year senior on Thursday night will attend the Outland Trophy banquet to be honored as the 2013 winner of the Guy Chamberlin Trophy, rewarding his dedication and commitment to the program that he joined back in 2009.
Sirles then flies out Saturday to get ready for the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he gets the chance to wear his Nebraska practice and game helmets for one more week.
“It's a great opportunity,” said Sirles, who will be joined at the game by NU receiver Quincy Enunwa. “It's not something that every senior gets. Only a handful of us get to go out and do this one more time.”
Sirles went home to Lakewood, Colo., for a few days after the Gator Bowl, but was back in the Osborne Complex with NU strength and conditioning coach James Dobson by Monday morning. Even with only a short break after a long season, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle said he's healthy, refreshed and ready to show his best for NFL scouts.
“I get to go down there, me and Quincy, and represent the University of Nebraska, and make sure that we show that people from this program can compete with any player in the country,” Sirles said Wednesday.
Sirles first will get a nice sendoff Thursday night at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, when Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald receives his Outland Trophy and former North Carolina State center Jim Ritcher picks up his 1979 trophy.
In other Husker awards, NU quarterback Ron Kellogg will be honored as recipient of the Tom Novak Trophy and center Cole Pensick will receive the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award.
Sirles was named the Chamberlin winner at the Huskers' team banquet last month. He follows Rex Burkhead, Lavonte David, Alex Henery and Ndamukong Suh as recent recipients of the award, which goes annually to a senior who shows “by the play and contributions to the betterment of the University of Nebraska football squad that he has the qualities and dedication of Guy Chamberlin to the Cornhusker tradition.”
“It was such an honor,” Sirles said. “You read the explanation of what it is, and you're kind of like, 'Wow.' That's something that I don't take lightly.
“The tradition is one of the reasons I came here. So to be honored as someone that upholds that tradition is huge to me.”
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Sirles made his 41st career start in the Gator Bowl and played in 53 games over his Husker career. He bounced back after a Nov. 9 knee injury at Michigan to finish the season.
The East-West Shrine Game will get him a week of practices in front of scouts leading up to the Jan. 18 game at Tropicana Field, which could be even more important if Sirles is not invited to the NFL Combine.
“I was talking to my agent (Chris Gittings) about what to expect, and he said to treat every practice like a game,” Sirles said. “He said that every practice people are going to be looking at you, and that you've got to handle yourself well through the interview process.”
The adrenaline has kept him going, but the last week also has been a cold reminder that Sirles has to leave his old teammates behind.
That's what he will miss most. The bond. The camaraderie. Going through it all with his friends.
“Hopefully it's something you can have at the next level, if I'm lucky enough to have that chance,” he said. “but I've been told it's never the same as college.”
Two Huskers headed for Collegiate Bowl
Nebraska offensive tackle Brent Qvale and cornerback Ciante Evans are headed for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, now giving the Huskers five players in all-star games.
The NU media relations office confirmed Wednesday that Qvale and Evans will play in the Jan. 18 game in Carson, Calif. The National and American teams will be coached by Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green, respectively.
Evans, from Arlington, Texas, intercepted four passes this season and was named first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started 32 games over the last three seasons.
Qvale, a 6-7, 315-pounder from Williston, N.D., was an Academic All-Big Ten pick who started 18 career games and played 53 as a Husker.
It was previously announced that NU cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste would play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25.