June 8, 2011

Where are they now: Chris Dishman

When you think back to some of the highlight plays from Nebraska's great offenses of the mid-1990s, chances are Chris Dishman was somewhere on the field driving an opposing defender into the turf with a pancake block.

In this week's edition of our "Where are they now" series, we caught up with Knox and asked him to reflect on his playing days as well as his thoughts on the current state of the Huskers.

You played on arguably two of the greatest offensive lines in college football history during your time at Nebraska. Can you talk about what it was like being a part of such a dominant unit?

"You know, it was pretty surreal, I guess. Looking back now and realizing that we averaged 399 yards per game or something in '95, that's just ridiculous. I coach high school football, and if we average 200 yards or 250 yards, that means we're running all over people. So it's nice to look back on that, but at the time you didn't really realize that we were playing that well. Looking back now, it was a great experience playing with guys like Brenden Stai, Zach Wiegert, Aaron Taylor and Aaron Graham. It's such a long time ago that you forget about your playing days a little bit, but it was definitely a great experience for me to be at Nebraska during those times."

You were inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame back in 2006. What did it mean to you to receive that type of honor?

"I think that all goes to our team. We had such a good team that anybody on it could be inducted. I was fortunate enough that it was me, but we had such a family group there. I was very fortunate. I got caught up with a great group of guys at Nebraska, and we worked with a lot of unity. We really defined the term 'team'. On the field we'd battle and fight and everything, but once practice was over we'd sit down and eat dinner together and went to movies to together. We were a really cohesive group, and I think that's what made us so good. We were willing to fight for each other. We were never played for ourselves, we played for the guy next to us. Sometimes you look at today's Nebraska teams, and I don't think they have the continuity like we did back then. We would do anything for the guy next to us."

You were a redshirt freshman when Will Shields was a senior at Nebraska. From what you remember when you played with him, was it much of a surprise to you when he was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame?

"No, not a surprise at all. He was my idol when I was a young kid in high school watching him play. Just to be able to line up with him in practice was incredible. He wasn't the strongest guy in the weight room, but he had the speed. He had the best feet in the world, and he never got off balance or fell down. He had the motor to drive anyone backwards. He was just an elite player."

Do you still follow the Huskers much today?

"We have season tickets, and my son being 12 years old, he's really getting excited about football. He never had a chance to see me play because he was too young, but now he's getting to where he knows the guys now and looks up to them. It's kind of nice being a dad that it's all coming full circle now."

Where are they now?
Player: Chris Dishman, 1992-96

Current city: Garland, Neb.

Family: Wife: Audra; Children: Taylor (14), Tim (12).

Current profession: Dishman has coached football and track at Malcolm (Neb.) High School for the past four years, and he also holds a job with the Lancaster County Department of Corrections. After initially retiring from the NFL in 2004, Dishman was an assistant coach at Lincoln North Star for a summer before coming out of retirment for one last season.

Professional career: Dishman was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft, where he played in 91 games with 54 starts over the next seven seasons. After being let go by the Cardinals following the 2003 season, Dishman retired for all of three months before coming back to the NFL to sign a one-year contract with the St. Louis Rams.

NU career accomplishments: A member of two of the greatest offensive lines in Nebraska football history, Dishman was one of the marquee names on a unit that paved the way to two national championships in his five years at Nebraska. After working his way into the rotation as a sophomore in 1994, Dishman became a full-time starter at left tackle in 1995 as one of four new starters. All that o-line did was lead the Huskers to average 399.8 yards rushing per game, and Dishman earned first-team All-Big Eight honors. As a senior in '96, Dishman split time at tackle and guard and earned second-team All-American honors and was an Outland Trophy semifinalist. In 2006, Dishman was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.

What has been your evaluation of Bo Pelini and the job he's done over the past three years?

"I think Pelini was definitely the best pick. The bad things was with (Bill) Callahan, none of us liked Callahan, but if you imagine if we had Callahan as offensive coordinator and Pelini as the defensive coordinator, we would have three more titles at Nebraska. Offensively, Callahan was pretty good. We were one of the top offenses in the country when he was running the show. But now with Pelini and I think (Tim) Beck in there at offensive coordinator, it's going to change things around from when (Shawn) Watson was around. I don't want to say anything bad about (Watson), but it seemed like we didn't know what our identity was on offense last year. We kind of jumped around from the Wildcat to a pro formation and then to a spread, so it was kind of like we didn't have an identity. Back in the 90s, our identity was running the ball. Everyone knew it, but we were going to run the ball anyway. Hopefully Beck brings back that kind of attitude to the team, and I think he will. I talk to Brendan Stai, who's helping out over there, and he says things are going to change."

Have there been any Husker offensive linemen the past year or so who you've especially enjoyed watching?

"I liked watching Ricky Henry. Even though he was a little out of control sometimes, I enjoyed him because you knew he was going to go full-go on every play. I like Mike Caputo. He's a smaller guy, but he reminds me a lot of the centers we had when I was in college. He's just a little ankle biter out there who's going to get in people's way. He's not going to blow anybody off the line because of his size, but he's going to get in their way and he has the determination to get the job done."

Being a Cozad native, I assume you're also keeping an eye on your fellow Haymaker Jared Crick?

"I always like watching Crick. He's the only Cozad boy out there, so I always cheer for him. He's a heck of an athlete. He had some good help with (Ndamukong) Suh there two years ago, learning from one of the best that I've ever seen at the college level. Last year he got put in a lot of double teams, and this year he'll know how to play through that. He'll learn from last year, and I expect him to do big things this year."

You played in both the Big Eight and the Big 12 conferences as a player. What are your thoughts on Nebraska moving to the Big Ten this year?

"I think it's going to be a great move with us going there. The Big 12 just ended up turning into a Texas conference with the Big 12 Championship always being played down there and everything being revolved around the Texas schools. When we were in the Big Eight, I remember Coach (Tom) Osborne was against the Big 12, because he saw it coming this way. I don't know how he knows stuff like that, but Coach Osborne always seems to know, and it ended up turning out just how he thought it would. They took it over. They ruined all the old Big Eight games like Nebraska-Oklahoma and they turned it into a Texas league. I think going to the Big Ten is going to be great for us. It's going to force us to use a little more fullback in the backfield and do more power running, which linemen love to see because that's the kind of offense we all want to run."

Finally, when you look back on your Nebraska career, are there any plays, games or moments that stand out as your favorite memories as a Husker?

"I would have to say the '94 championship against Miami. My greatest moment I guess was that game, mostly because I was a sophomore at the time, I wasn't a starter, and most of the time my duties that year were with the scrubs going out there and picking it up when we were already up by 50. I remember being in the National Championship game in the second quarter, and the first touchdown we scored, that series, for some reason Coach (Milt) Tenopir put me in the game. I hadn't been in a game before the third quarter all year, and he told me to go in the game. So I was on the field during that drive, and that was probably the most memorable moment for me, realizing that I could compete at the highest level in college football."

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