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September 8, 2008

NU lineman Christensen returns to the practice field

It's been quite an off-season for Nebraska offensive lineman Andy Christensen, but on Monday the Bennington native finally returned to doing what he loves best-playing football.

Christensen was officially reinstated by NU head coach Bo Pelini on Monday, after being found not guilty to first-degree sexual assault charges this past Tuesday. Pelini said in a written statement Christensen will have to serve a three-game suspension through this weekend's New Mexico State game and he will not be eligible to play until the Virginia Tech game on Sept. 27. The suspension has to do with the misdemeanor charges he's already pled guilty to.

"After speaking with Andy Christensen and his family, as well as Coach Osborne, our administration and the Unity Council, we have made the decision to re-instate Andy to our football team." Pelini said in a written statement. "That being said, I have clearly explained to Andy and his family that going forward he will have a zero tolerance policy regarding alcohol and any off-field incidents."

Senior offensive lineman Matt Slauson has played with Christensen the last four years in Lincoln and said the entire team was happy to see him back practicing again.

Slauson said he knows how tough the last few months have been for Christensen and his family, and the entire team had them in their prayers during that time.

"I can't even put myself in his shoes," Slauson said. "I can't imagine what was going through their heads. Our prayers were with him and it ended up working well for him. I'm really sad that he and his family had to go through all of that. We have his back now, and everything will be on the right track."

Christensen is obviously rusty, as he has not played organized football since last year's USC game, where he tore his ACL. The injury was the second season-ending injury Christensen suffered in his career. In 2005, Christensen tore his shoulder during training camp and missed the entire season due to that injury.

Pelini said he didn't get a chance to watch Christensen do much on Monday, but it's pretty clear he's got a long road ahead of him before he gets back to the player he once was.

"I had my eyes in a lot of different places today, but he looked like he was in pretty good shape out there," Pelini said. "He moved around well from what I saw. Time will tell on that. He's got to get the rust off."

When healthy, Christensen started eight games for NU in 2006 and was a starter for the Huskers at guard going into the 2007 season. Before Christensen's legal problems hit, he was expected to be in contention for the starting center job with junior Jacob Hickman.

"I can just see in his eyes that he's back with his friends and he's happy and he's doing what he loves," Slauson said. "He was maybe the most physical guy on our line and probably the most intelligent guy on our line. To have him back means a lot of success for us."


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