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LINCOLN — As right guard Matt Sichterman closed the lengthiest media session of his career, linemate and friend Broc Bando walked over to the microphone.

“Genius,” Bando said about Sichterman. “Genius right here.”

A reporter then asked who the smartest offensive lineman on the team is.

“Matt Sichterman,” said freshman Brant Banks, the guy dueling with Sichterman to win the right guard role.

“I’m definitely the oldest ‘smartest’ guy,” Sichterman said. “We’ll go with that.”

Offensive line coach Greg Austin said later: “Hell of a lot smarter than I’ll ever be.”

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The fifth-year Husker — set to graduate in May with a degree in software engineering — knows his way around a computer program, works part time at Hudl and wants to get an MBA. All those things were true about him before spring camp.

What’s true now? He just might be NU’s starting right guard in 2021.

“As I see myself going in my fifth year and my time kind of winding down, it’s my time to get out there and execute and do what I do,” Sichterman said Wednesday.

He has worked with the No. 1 offensive line a lot — so has Banks — and made his coach “pretty proud” of his progress. Because Austin, while calling Sichterman a “quality backup” for three seasons, didn’t know whether the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder would seize this moment.

Already at left guard freshman Ethan Piper was a starter. And Banks, a 6-7, 305-pounder in the mold of Zach Sterup, was moved just before spring camp from tackle — where Nebraska has little depth or experience — to guard, where the Huskers had both, for a reason.

But Sichterman has surged.

“I knew we were going to give him a shot, and he’s taken full advantage of it, and he’s done a really good job,” Austin said. “He’s been consistent, he’s been a leader, he’s been a vocal leader. He’s been everything we’ve ever asked him to be, and he’s been a pretty productive offensive lineman for us.”

Sichterman has been a mentor for younger players, too, Austin said. Nebraska was looking for vocal leaders after the departure of Matt Farniok, a two-time captain who’d long been the chief spokesman for the unit. Sichterman, who said he arrived in 2017 as an “underweight” tackle, had long been Farniok’s understudy at guard.

“Matt’s one of those grinders,” Sichterman said of Farniok, who’s hoping to be selected in the NFL draft next weekend. “Not only was he a technician — we kind of share some tools there — he’s just taught me to show up and back him up the best I can.”

When Farniok left, Austin said, Sichterman didn’t ask permission to lead. He just did it.

“He has a good feel for leadership — a good feel for understanding when to push the buttons of the young guys, when to be vocal, when to get after their ass,” Austin said. “And he’s a teacher — a good teacher — and he’s telling the kids, some of the young guys, what they need to do, how they need to step better, body position. So he’s also coaching.”

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Sichterman views himself as a “technician,” with a strong grasp of the assignments and fundamentals for the job. Being a guard at Nebraska requires a lot, since they need to be able to move well and fill a variety of roles. Iowa’s offensive linemen, elite as they are, spend a lot of time in a specific pro-style scheme that only occasionally leans on power pulling plays. Nebraska is far more diverse.

“We run a lot of different schemes, a lot of pulling guards, so I pride myself as a pretty athletic guard,” Sichterman said. He’s worked on his strength, too.

Banks, new to the position, said the game happens much faster at guard than it does at tackle, where players have time to survey what’s in front of them. Banks is learning in practice the need for a lower pad level — not easy with his longer frame — against shorter, thicker, more explosive tackles like Damion Daniels and Deontre Thomas.

Sichterman, more compact, may have an edge there for now. And, of course, he’s got the brains. A love for 3D printing and coding in high school led to the software engineering major. Sichterman is part of the second graduating cohort out of the major, and credited good friends and small classes with his progress in it.

“I like to build stuff,” Sichterman said.

In 2021, that may include a résumé to start at right guard.

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