|Aaron Terpening celebrates his blocked punt against Iowa State.|
By Josh Maxson
Aaron Terpening spent his youth telling all of his buddies in Salem, Ore., that one day he would play college football at Nebraska.
Always one of the smallest football players on the field, Terpening had a difficult time convincing those friends his dream really would come true.
"When I was a kid, I was one of the smaller guys around playing football," Terpening said. "Everybody laughed at me when I said I wanted to play for the Huskers. Now, being where I am, hopefully I can use it as encouragement for other kids who have that kind of dream, where people laugh at them, and say ?Oh, you will never do that.?"
Terpening was invited to walk on in 1998, and even though he had scholarship offers from other schools, his dream of playing for the Huskers was too vivid.
Five years later with his Blackshirt and a scholarship now securely in hand, Terpening has proven that with a little hard work and a strong faith, almost anything can be done.
The road wasn?t always an easy one for Terpening. As a walk-on, he had to prove that he belonged.
"I came here with high expectations for myself," Terpening said. "When you are a little kid dreaming of playing for the Huskers, you don?t dream of sitting on the sidelines, you dream of playing. I have tried to do everything I could to make it onto the field. I?ve made sure that I put everything I have into every practice, the weight room and summer conditioning."
Terpening?s desire and competitiveness have not gone unnoticed by the Husker coaching staff.
"He is a quality kid," defensive backs Coach George Darlington said. "I would take every Aaron Terpening I could find."
Terpening has started two games at rover for the Huskers this season. He recorded 15 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry before breaking his hand.
Although his minutes in the secondary have been limited since he broke his hand, Terpening continues to make a name for himself on Nebraska?s special teams.
A prominent member of the Huskers? kickoff return, punt and kickoff coverage teams, he believes hard work and taking care of your responsibilities are the key to good special teams play.
"Special teams is a part of the game where everyone knows their job, and it just comes down to who is going to work harder, and who wants it more. That is the essence of special teams. In other phases of the games, through Xs and Os, you can beat another team. I think special teams just comes down to which team has athletes on the field who are trying harder and want it more. Everyone knows what they are doing. It is cut and dry."
The senior notched the second blocked punt of his career this season against Iowa State.
"Aaron has been a high-energy player ever since he arrived on campus," Darlington said. "I think, along with DeJuan Groce, he has arguably been our best special teams player the past two or three years. He has really just done everything for us on special teams. He?s blocked punts and been on our kickoff return for at least the past 30 games. "
Academics are also very important to the architectural studies major. Terpening is a six-time Big 12 Commissioner?s Honor Roll member, a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and has also been nominated for Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors three times.
"I came here with the idea that I would do architecture. It just kind of fit me," Terpening said. "I have a little bit of talent with drawing and just being creative. Once I got into it, it is a really demanding major. There is a lot of time that goes into it.
"I started questioning whether this is what I really wanted to do. But through a lot of prayer and seeking advice from other people, I came to the realization that you just have to go after what you like to do, and what fits you best.
"Some of the the architecture majors ask me how I am able to play football too, but honestly it is not that hard. After practice you put in three or four hours of home work and then get whatever you can get done in the morning before class and do a little bit over the weekend. I still have plenty of time to hang out. It is not that bad."
Through all of the challenges, both on and off the football field, Terpening has made his dream come true.
"I?m still here through faith and knowing that things would work out and never giving up, even though there were a lot of times where I was frustrated," Terpening said. "I think slowly but surely, I?ve earned respect in the coaches? eyes. Once I did get on the field, I was able to make some things happen."