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October 2021 Hail Varsity "Nouri's Story"
Photo Credit: Quentin Lueninghoener

From Germany to Starting in the Big Ten, Nouri’s Story Leads Latest Hail Varsity

October 21, 2021

The October 2021 issue of Hail Varsity is on its way to mailboxes and newsstands this week. To preview the issue, here is this month’s Letter from the Editor. Make sure you don’t miss an issue by subscribing today.

At this point, I’m not sure anything plays well on Twitter, but because most of my use of the platform is centered around Nebraska athletics, I know Husker football losses don’t play well at all.

Not in any language.

Short-side Option bitte nicht auf die Seite von Boye Mafe laufen. Zu quick und bursty.

That’s just a helpful play-calling suggestion from Germany. It’s from a favorite account of mine, one I started following when I decided learning some German would be a good use of some of my pandemic time. No, I’m not having much luck speaking the language at this point. On a good day, I can piece together about 60% of the meaning of about 60% of the sentences I encounter. When those sentences are about college football—my turf—I do a little better.

Here, this German blogger and podcaster was urging Nebraska not to run the short-side option to the side of Minnesota defensive end Boye Mafe. He’s too quick and bursty.

It’s true. He is quick and bursty. And it was polite. I liked that.

Hail Varsity October 2021 CoverThere was another tweet during Nebraska’s loss at Minnesota that was more representative of how tense things get on Twitter. I pieced together my customary 60%, and when I pulled up the translation for the last phrase I didn’t recognize, well, you’re not reading it here, even in German, for a reason. It wasn’t off base in its assessment. In fact, it was perhaps too astute in its profanity.

Point is, I appreciate reading college football tweets in German because it always makes me think of how much passion it must require to even follow the sport from that far afar. The audience for German-language college football content must be small. The games are on at odd hours. You have to really love it to put in that much effort.

Now imagine living in Germany and wanting to play American football. Think about all of the extra effort that requires—finding a team, building the skills necessary to have a shot at playing in college, getting noticed for those skills, getting to a new country.

At some point deputy editor Erin Sorensen and I were talking about what would become her excellent feature in this month’s issue on offensive lineman Nouredin Nouili, originally from Frankfurt, Germany. I didn’t know much about his backstory, and at one point I wondered aloud if there was a moment for Nouri, as his teammates call him, when this impossible dream of playing American football felt like it could actually happen.

Turns out, there wasn’t. Despite starting seven games as a true freshman at Colorado State and then, at the start of this month, earning a starting spot at Nebraska tthere was no moment when Nouri’s American football dream “became real” because he didn’t come to America to play football. He came to America because he wanted to come to America. The football is just part of it.

And that’s an even better story.

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