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July 23, 2008

Slauson finds his home at right guard

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the first time in his collegiate career, Matt Slauson feels at home.

After spending the past three years rotating in and out of nearly every position on Nebraska's offensive line, the senior seems to have found the spot that fits him best at right guard.

Along with the benefit of being able to prepare physically for one position, Slauson said he feels more at ease mentally knowing he won't be switched somewhere else unless absolutely needed.

"It's a real good thing to know where you're going to play heading into the season," Slauson said Monday during Nebraska's portion of the Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City. "I've played every position you've got on the offensive line except center. It's really nice to be able to prepare yourself for one position and not have to worry about eventually getting moved somewhere else."

Slauson began his career at NU at right tackle in 2005 and was one of 13 true freshmen to see playing time that season. By the end of the year, he had established himself as a starter for the Huskers' final three games, including their Alamo Bowl win over Michigan.

He opened the 2006 campaign as the starting right tackle and played the first 11 games there before a leg injury forced him to miss the final two games of the season. Though Slauson earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for his efforts, the injury would start his tour of four of the five positions on the line.

Slauson opened his junior year in '07 at guard and played in all 12 games, but he ended up starting a total of eight games at three different positions along the line, including right guard and both tackle positions.

Despite being shuffled around likely more than any player in the conference, Slauson was still able to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors by Rivals.com.

Though Slauson and Nebraska's new coaching staff have only worked together for a few months, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native has already made quite the impression.

"He's a heck of a football player," NU head coach Bo Pelini said. "He's really a core leader of our football team and also really a good group on the offensive line. We think that he's going to have a heck of a year."

Senior quarterback Joe Ganz said having Slauson blocking in front of him should help put him at ease a little more heading into his first full season as a starter.

"Knowing I have a guy like Matt, with his level of experience, makes me feel a lot better," Ganz said. "Not only can I trust him to do his job, but he makes everyone around him better because he's played so many positions on the line."

While he was forced to learn new techniques and blocking schemes with every move along the line, Slauson said he wouldn't change much about how his career has unfolded.

If anything, Slauson is the player he is today - a routine all-conference selection - because of it all.

"I think that it's helped me more than hurt me," Slauson said. "I know how the blocking works at almost every position, and I can play almost every spot on the line, which I think makes me a better player. I'd definitely say it's helped me."


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