In any other setting, the bride may have thrown them out of the ceremony.
But former Husker football player Cole Pensick, on his wedding day, had some groomsmen next to him with NFL hopes and dreams close to their hearts and their cellphones closer.
Spencer Long had already been taken by Washington in the third round of the NFL Draft that weekend in 2014. On this Saturday, with the later rounds in process, Jeremiah Sirles and Brent Qvale were still waiting for phone calls.
“The pastor beforehand was like, ‘Look, these guys have their phones on them and if they ring they are going to answer them,'” Sirles recalls. “Luckily, none of us didn’t get a call during the ceremony.”
Sirles and Qvale were not drafted, but immediately signed with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, respectively.
If you’re keeping count, Pensick’s wedding party had three future NFL linemen in it.
And though Nebraska’s recent NFL Draft history — six players drafted over the past five seasons — isn’t as rich as it was in the 1990s and even the decade that followed, the Huskers continue to have success landing offensive linemen in the NFL.
That continued Saturday when tackle Brenden Jaimes was selected in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Chargers, and guard/tackle Matt Farniok was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round.
Nebraska hasn’t had a first-team All-America offensive linemen since Toniu Fonoti in 2001, but the Huskers have continued to dot NFL rosters with big boys.
“It might not be what we’re used to seeing — three or four guys a year that get a shot in the NFL — but we absolutely still have NFL talent,” Sirles said. “I think the pipeline, it’s still flowing.”
Between 2008-12, Nebraska produced five drafted offensive linemen, a stretch that included Carl Nicks, who had two Pro Bowl seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
Sirles played on a Husker offensive line in 2013 that included Long at right guard and Qvale at right tackle. Zach Sterup, a sophomore at the time, saw a lot of playing time that year. He, too, later played in the NFL.
Long became a key cog in the trenches in Washington.
Alex Lewis was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and is in the midst of a three-year, $18.6 million contract with the New York Jets.
Nick Gates, who left NU a year early, was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018 by the New York Giants. He signed a two-year extension with the team last August.
Sirles and Qvale were among the ex-Husker linemen to go undrafted. But that didn’t stop them from finding success in the league either.
Qvale is still in the league. He’s with the Texans.
Sirles, who earned a spot on the practice roster as a Chargers rookie and then a spot on the 53-man roster later in the season, played for six seasons before retiring after the 2019 season.
“Once you get into those later rounds, that’s when you hope that you have really good agent that is on roster breakdowns where if you don’t get drafted, he has a team that is the best situation for you,” Sirles said. “Because at that moment, it’s no longer about getting drafted, it’s about going somewhere where you know you can make the team.”
Now it’s Farniok’s and Jaimes’ turn.
Jaimes, who may also play guard with the Chargers, started 40 straight games as a Husker, which he takes a lot of pride in, he told reporters Saturday after being drafted.
“I went into Nebraska to be part of a great tradition of great offensive linemen, and I don’t think you could have done that on the sideline,” the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder said. “I did my best to stay on the field through the little injuries and do what I could off the field to prevent major injuries, and I feel like I did pretty well.
“I think that will serve a good purpose in the NFL.”
Photos: All of the sights from the return of the Red-White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium
Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.