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Alumni corner: Wheeler providing an anchor at Nebraska-Kearney

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Broomfield graduate Cody Wheeler has become an integral presence at center for the University of Nebraska-Kearney football team.

Some kids you just know have it.

For Broomfield football coach Gary Davies, Cody Wheeler was one of those kids … and no, not just because Cody’s father Todd was a member of his coaching staff.

“I’m not surprised at all that he has had success,” the longtime Eagles coach said. “He’s a very tough kid.”

Wheeler is now a redshirt junior at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and eager to help the Lopers improve on a rough 3-8 season in 2012, the first for the team in the rough-and-tumble Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

In the team’s first go-around in the MIAA, the Lopers, who return their entire starting offensive line (including Wheeler), played seven different quarterbacks and never really got into any sort of rhythm the entire year.

“It was just one of those freak years,” said Wheeler, whose team finished the season winning three of its final four games. “I don’t want to blow our own horn, but this year we should be pretty solid.”

Wheeler, who was a two-time team captain and All-Conference center at Broomfield, is firmly entrenched as the Lopers’ starting center. As a redshirt freshman in 2011 he was a reserve at both center and guard. Last year, the 6-foot-1, 280 pound Wheeler found a home as the anchor of the line.

Needless to say, he is eager to get the 2013 season going.

“This MIAA conference is just awesome. I think they had 12 guys go in the NFL draft this last season,” Wheeler said. “I think we will have to earn respect each and every week until we show them that we are the real thing. We have to win to get respected.”

The key for Wheeler and his linemates this season is keeping incoming University of Nebraska transfer quarterback Bronson Marsh healthy and in the games. Marsh was the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska and is the state record holder for career passing yards (6,826).

Wheeler’s parents Todd and Annette, as well as other family members, try and attend every game and for Todd, who has been his coach since he picked up the game, the pleasure of now just getting to be a fan is beyond enjoyment.

“He is just laying back and enjoying the game as fan instead of worrying about play calls and all the other stuff that coaches have to deal with,” said Wheeler, whose offensive linemates start growing their beards for the season in mid-July.

Wheeler is a health and physical education major, and with the assumption that his playing days will be over after the 2014 season, he would love nothing more than to stay in the game that has given him so much.

“My goal is to get a GA (graduate assistant) job and just kind of work my way up the ranks and eventually get a job as a head coach somewhere someday,” Wheeler said.

Follow Jon on Twitter: @JonEYunt