Incognito vows to keep himself in line this year

Updated: August 7, 2003, 9:11 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska offensive lineman Richie Incognito said he's changed his ways.

Cornhusker fans know Incognito as the brash and sometimes out-of-control left tackle who is full of potential -- and vinegar.

His after-the-whistle antics earned him more than a few personal fouls last season.

His off-the-field antics earned him a suspension during spring football.

As Incognito enters his sophomore season, he vows to be more disciplined in every phase of his life.

"I've grown up a little. It will be better," he said.

Fellow lineman Dan Vili Waldrop has noticed the difference.

"He's a lot calmer lately," Waldrop said. "He's older now and knows some things shouldn't be done. He carries himself better. Before, he was pretty frisky."

Incognito's college football career hung in the balance last season. Coach Frank Solich suspended him in the spring for unspecified reasons, saying only that Incognito had to address a number of issues before he could be reinstated.

Incognito apparently complied. He would not discuss the circumstances that led to his suspension, but he said he learned a valuable lesson.

"I've got to tone it down a little," he said.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Incognito emerged as a redshirt freshman last year, starting 13 games and recording 171 knockdown blocks. Since 1995, when such "pancake" totals were first tracked, only Toniu Fonoti has had more in a season, with 201 in 2001.

After earning honorable mention for the All-Big 12 team last year, he is listed as a second-team all-conference pick in the preseason.

Coaches had planned to have Incognito take over for the graduated John Garrison at center. But the Glendale, Ariz., product will remain at left tackle after the emergence of Josh Sewell at center during the spring.

Last year's 7-7 record and his on-field and off-field entanglements combined to make 2002 a difficult season for him.

Incognito said he was selfish.

"I just wanted my face in the paper last year and all over TV," he said. "Going through last year, I realized that's not what is important."

Even though Incognito said he plans to clean up his act -- he was caught spitting on a Troy State player last year -- he won't sacrifice his aggressiveness.

"Oh, the intensity level is still going to be there. But I have to stop at the whistle," he said. "If we want to win Big 12 championships and national championships, we have to eliminate the little things.

"That's something we can control. I took it upon myself to eliminate that," Incognito said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index