The fullback is a rare breed in today’s NFL, and that helps explain why Andy Janovich is a one-of-a-kind player. The third-year Nebraska product is a special teams captain and embodies toughness. In 2016, he broke his hand on the first play of the game — and then proceeded to play the rest of the game. Head Coach Vance Joseph said recently you’d be “hard pressed to find a guy better than him” at the position, and Janovich’s performance this season shows Joseph is likely correct. Janovich has played a key role in several big plays for the Broncos this year, and we asked him about one during a Week 4 game against Kansas City. We also checked in with Janovich about his alma mater’s new head coach, why he goes sleeveless — even when it snows — and a truck that stands out in a parking lot full of luxury cars.
Aric DiLalla: As a Nebraska alum, what are your thoughts on the start of the Scott Frost era?
Andy Janovich: “I think it’s going to be great. Obviously, right now it’s not, but once he gets his guys in and they start maturing, it’s going to be pretty good.”
AD: Is he the guy that you think can return Nebraska to what it used to be back in the ‘90s?
AJ: “Absolutely. I just wish he’d run a fullback. That’s how his offense goes, so oh well.”
AD: What do you respect about those old teams? When you were at Nebraska, did they talk about those teams as the standard?
AJ: “Yeah, absolutely. Just smash-mouth, hard-nosed football. Those guys went out there, and they were going to crush everybody that they went against. Didn’t matter who it was. If their moms were on the field, they’d go after them.”
AD: When’s the first time you ever remember breaking a facemask?
AJ: “Oh, shoot. Probably college. We had [former Nebraska assistant coach] Ron Brown. He’d line the linebackers up one at a time five yards from us, and we’d just go at it.”
AD: Has toughness become a calling card for you?
AJ: “Yeah, I think that’s really where it all started. He really made me get after it. That’s when I started to figure out how to block and how to run into people and hit and move linebackers out of holes.”
AD: Fullback is such a different position than most spots on a football team. Do you think it’s a reminder of what the game used to be like?
AJ: “I guess. Hopefully they start bringing them back. But you never know. We’re just the last indication of the ‘90s and even before then.”
AD: When it was snowing a few weeks ago, you were out there with no sleeves. How does that develop a team’s mentality? I saw some of your teammates joined in.
AJ: "I think it’s a sign of toughness. I’m like, ‘I don’t give a [crap] what the weather’s like today, I’m going to come out here — dress the same whether it’s hot or cold — and I’m just going to kick your ass.'"
AD: Does that transfer to game day pretty easily?
AJ: “Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot of guys on game day that don’t like to wear sleeves just cause if they handle the ball, they think it messes with them. I think a lot of guys are going to start joining in.”
AD: Against Kansas City, you had a long catch on the wheel route. What were you thinking as the ball was coming through the air?
AJ: “‘Don’t screw this up. You’ve got to catch it.’ I couldn’t see it. I saw it out of his hands and then it got lost in the lights. I saw it when it came back down, so I got lucky on that one.”
AD: Have you caught a pass that long before?
AJ: “Not in a game (laughter).”
AD: How does that compare to the touchdown run against the Panthers during your first career game?
AJ: “Shoot, I don’t know. We didn’t win the [Kansas City] game, so it doesn’t really matter.”
AD: I know a lot of guys out here have fancy cars. It looks like you’re still driving the same truck you’ve had for a while. When did you get that thing, and is that you staying true to your roots by not upgrading?
AJ: “I wouldn’t say it’s staying true to my roots, but I got that when I was a junior in college so I could haul a mower for my mowing business. It’s a good truck. I’ve got no reason to get rid of it.”
AD: Do any of your teammates give you a hard time about it?
AJ: “Aw, everybody. But they’re not spending the money on it, so I don’t see why they care.”