Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Fully Healed, Brian Buschini Is Hopeful to Meet Brook Berringer’s No. 18 Standard

April 05, 2023

Brian Buschini first heard about Brook Berringer through Bible study with longtime assistant Ron Brown. Buschini transferred from Montana last year fresh off knee surgery and looking for a place to celebrate his faith. Brown provided that. One of Brown’s lessons told the story of a humble, selfless, dedicated backup Husker with a bright future that never came to fruition.

Over 25 years after the plane crash that claimed Berringer’s life and that of Tobey Lake, brother of Berringer’s girlfriend, Buschini researched the quarterback’s story. He found it tragic and inspiring, calling it one of the most incredible stories he’s heard.

“It’s super tragic but also the impact he had you can tell just how powerful of a person he was on and off the field,” Buschini said on Tuesday. “That’s a person I aspire to be like. I want to have a good impact on the team and in the community by being faithful with what the Lord has given me and trying to be the best man that I can be day in and day out, kind of like he was.”

Buschini announced in early February that he’ll wear No. 18 during the 2023 season to honor Berringer.

“I consider it a really big honor,” he said. “I’m going to try to hold myself to a high standard, character-wise, because I know that’s what Brook did. He’s just a really big inspiration for me.”

Along with the ceremonial number change, Buschini shifted focus to his future during the offseason. He gritted through three sprained ankles last season, punting for large swaths of 2022 with a limp. He described his foot as “a balloon.” Buschini’s determination won the respect of his teammates at the time. Any remaining doubt was put to rest during winter conditioning this year. As someone who detests being considered a glorified soccer player, which he’s aware there’s a stigma around kickers of being, he saw workouts as a proving ground.

“I think it’s a great way to earn the respect of my teammates because I’m not out there on the practice field, hitting people as hard as they are day in and day out,” he said. “So when I can show them I’m just as tough and I put in just as much effort as they do. Through winter conditioning, I also see that as a time where I can be a leader.”

Buschini gave high credit to strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell. Buschini dropped 9 pounds of fat and gained 6 pounds of muscle, trimming himself down to 4% body fat while adding explosiveness to his lower body and healing his ankle. His range of motion is improved, his core strength is better and even his ankle is stronger. He said it’s the best shape his body has ever been in. Buschini does calf raises, isometric holds and band exercises to work on his ankle. Deep tissue massages help and, if needed, he’ll use the stem machine he has at home. This coaching staff’s focus on rest and recovery is already benefitting one of Nebraska’s top contributors,

“I’ve really tried to hit every muscle area in my lower body this offseason,” Buschini said. “I feel a lot more explosive. I’ve been seeing the results on the punting field so far too. I’ve been super thankful to Coach Campbell and the teammates I have for supporting me in the weight room.”

One of the Big Ten’s best punters from last season wants to write his name near the top of that list again in 2023. He’s working diligently with special teams coordinator Ed Foley to fine-tune fundamentals and basics. This coaching staff has plenty of special teams ideas. Buschini is excited to work on each of them. Foley’s won Buschini’s trust not only as a person but because Foley coached Johnny Hekker at Carolina. Hekker is responsible for 7 of the top 15 net punting season in NFL history and Buschini considers him the best punter to ever play. Buschini wants to also punt in the NFL. So he’s soaking in every bit of expertise and embracing the coaching staff’s push for improvement.

“It’s a process,” he said. “Come in each and every day. Do the same warmup, doing a nutrition plan, building a strength program, finding good recovery methods that work for our bodies. All sorts of different things that the pros do, we’re trying to build that in our team. And that’s something Coach Foley learned in his time at the NFL.”

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