After flirting with NFL, Jaimes determined to lead o-line to next level
Not many knew about it, but Brenden Jaimes’ career at Nebraska almost ended a year early this offseason.
After quietly putting together a strong individual junior campaign, Jaimes was named the Huskers’ 2019 Offensive MVP and earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors.
But according to NU offensive line coach Greg Austin, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound left tackle had a higher NFL potential than anyone realized.
In fact, there was a point this winter when Jaimes wasn’t sure whether he’d be back for his senior season or make an early jump into the 2020 NFL Draft.
In the end, Austin said, the allure for Jaimes of solidifying himself as a pro-ready prospect and helping build Nebraska’s offensive line back to the “The Pipeline” won out over testing the NFL waters.
“We had this conversation, to be honest with you - it was, ‘Is he going to come back?’ And he was like, ‘I don’t know,’” Austin said. “Nobody knew. Brenden knows why he came back. Brenden had an opportunity to play in the NFL this year, so him coming back, this is not a, ‘I want to come back and increase my draft stock.’
“This is a come back to get stuff right, be the senior leader in the room that you’re supposed to be, be the cornerstone of the offensive line, continue to mentor the young guys behind you, progress those guys, be the right-hand man to the coaches. That’s your job now. This is not a, ‘hey, I’m just coming back to play more ball.’ This is, he has a job, above and beyond his job of just being a productive player.”
Offensive line stats are usually hard to analyze on an individual basis, as most are based on the play of the entire unit. But the football analytics site, PFF College, gave some perspective on the type of player Jaimes was last season.
The Austin, Texas, native finished with the fifth-best pass-blocking grade overall in the Big Ten and the second-best among the league's offensive tackles at 87.2. He allowed just two sacks and six quarterback hurries on the year; the fourth-lowest combined pressures given up in the conference.
All of that came on a sample size of 763 he snaps played in 2019, the fifth-most of any Big Ten tackle.
“You couldn’t have asked for better tackle play, especially in protection,” Austin said. “Not even close.”
Jaimes carried himself as every bit the senior leader of NU’s offensive front when he and several players spoke at Monday’s spring press conference.
The first words out of his mouth reflected exactly the type of attitude and focus Austin was hoping for when Jaimes was asked about his prospects for Nebraska’s offensive line this season.
"There shouldn't be any excuses this year,” Jaimes said. “Bringing back five starters, there should be absolutely no excuses for anything. With the depth that we have, competition should be through the roof as it is right now. Everybody should be competing as their spot is on the line every day, including me."