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Photo Credit: John Peterson

Faith on and off the Field Fueling Nick Henrich’s Return From Injury

July 31, 2023

For a time after Nebraska football’s loss to Purdue last season, Nick Henrich thought he might have played his last down of college football.

The 2022 team captain and starting linebacker had just suffered a season-ending injury against the Boilermakers. It wasn’t the first physical hurdle of his career either, as he redshirted in 2019 in part due to injuries and missed a pair of games earlier in 2022. This time, his fourth year of college football was cut short with five games still to go.

Those feelings eventually faded, and Henrich is back this fall, healthy again and ready to help lead the Husker defense.

“I really felt kind of reborn,” he said at Monday’s press conference. “And again, I’m just so blessed that I have these guys around me to really pick me up and they’re just incredible people.”

Henrich is fully available, although he wears a brace on his knee for the time being. He said he’s not a fan of it, but will do what he has to do to be on the field.

Through his recovery process, he said his faith guided him. In March, he was baptized by teammate Luke Reimer.

“Really just putting my faith in the process and my faith in the Lord, and understanding that I was going to be okay, and that this is just an opportunity to come back stronger,” Henrich said.

First-year Husker head coach Matt Rhule had praise for the veteran linebacker’s spirit and care for his teammates. His teammates recognize his contributions as well, according to the coach.

“If you ask the team like who leads and who they trust and all those things, They’re all going to say Nick,” Rhule said. “It’s a lonely road when you tear your ACL. I mean, you kind of wonder, am I ever going to be able to play again? And when you do come back to play, you’re always wondering like, is it gonna go again? There’s a lot of faith involved… So to see [Henrich] out there is pretty cool. I hope he has a great year, but to me he’s already won because he went through adversity and he’s battled back.”

It’s likely that Henrich will see significant time on the field this upcoming season, as he’s started every game he’s been available for over the past two years. He was second on the team in tackles in 2021, and was on a similar pace in 2022. Of course, there are variables to be noted, such as coming back from a major injury and playing in a new defensive scheme under coordinator Tony White.

On the latter point, the linebacker feels he’s adjusted well. Despite not being able to play, coaches kept him involved throughout the spring. He enjoys the freedom and ability to play fast, although that’s also been the biggest adjustment. Henrich said he’s had to understand the philosophy more, and remove some of the limitations of his position that may have been previously built into the system.

“The philosophy has been different. It’s just really different,” Henrich said. “I mean, we run every coverage and every front so it’s really chaotic and it’s really fun.”

The key to adjusting has simply been buying into the system, and he said coaches have been good at quickly correcting anything they don’t like. White in particular doesn’t “let anything go unnoticed.”

Both on and off the field, some form of faith has been a key for Henrich and the rest of the defense. They’ll continue to work at improving through the rest of fall camp leading up to the season opener at the end of August.

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