Through a diminished interior defensive line unit forged a leader this spring. Colton Feist retired from football, Ty Robinson was out of the spring with injury and Stephon Wynn Jr.’s promising spring ended in a transfer to Ole Miss. Nash Hutmacher served as a beacon on the defensive line for the coaching staff. Head coach Matt Rhule, defensive coordinator Tony White and defensive line coach Terrance Knighton all complimented the South Dakota native during the spring season. They all believe Hutmacher could grow into something special.
Back for his junior season this fall, Hutmacher felt he progressed as a leader this offseason. It was a new experience that Hutmacher got through with guidance from coaches and fellow defensive lineman Blaise Gunnerson. Hutmacher told Jessica Coody on a recent episode of Sports Nightly that the duo took ownership this spring and ran with it. Now, with Robinson back in the fold, they’re excited to provide an experienced anchor on the line.
Along the defensive line this spring also came the rise of new faces. Cameron Lenhardt, Kai Wallin and Princewill Umanmielen were among those who made an immediate name for themselves. Hutmacher is proud of how they all stepped into the program and made the most of their opportunities. Now, he’s doing what he can to guide them towards a bright future.
“They definitely had to grow up a bit, I guess, a little faster than maybe they wanted to without T Rob there,” Hutmacher told Coody. “It was really good for them. All the new guys, transfers, everyone, throughout the spring, progressed a lot. We were all really happy with it and we’re looking to continue what we’re doing.”
Hutmacher knows the entire defensive line is well taken care of by Knighton. The multi-contract NFL lineman is now giving direct guidance to Nebraska’s defensive linemen. Hutmacher said learning from Knighton has been nothing short of awesome.
“Having a guy who’s been where you want to go to and he’s been through the whole process, he’s done college to the NFL and now coaching,” he said. “It’s awesome having him in my ear especially being a nose and having him guide me along the way has been awesome.”
The former standout wrestler is also excited to play in White’s defense. While it took a little bit to fully grasp the new defensive system, Hutmacher said the game is slowing down for him. Through that slowing down he wants to continue improving his game. The weight and conditioning program also helps. He’s benefiting from an added emphasis on mobility and personalized nutrition. Hutmacher said he wants to take everything he’s learned from the weight room and adapt it onto the field this fall.
Coody asked Hutmacher what he’s learned most from the new coaching staff. He boiled it down to two points.
“It’s all about finish and attitude,” he said. “The attitude we bring to practice every day is we’re going to be the best unit out there. Everything we do is we’re going to finish, we’re going to do things the right way.”
Hutmacher said he wants to continue getting better and continue growing into the leadership role he found in the spring. He views his personal success not only through his own improvements but from the improvement of the younger players around him.
“Continuing to be the guy who does things the right way,” he said of what he’s looking forward to. “Leading people, you can’t be a great leader if you’re not doing things the right way yourself. In order to be the leader you’ve got to do the right things and bring those guys along with you and keep them doing the right things as well.”
As a testament to Hutmacher’s work ethic, he was one of the first members of “The Ten.” He said the honor meant a lot. Admittedly, he continually strives every week to be among the top 10% the coaching staff notices. Every single person in that top 10% is doing the right things, Hutmacher said. And he’s excited to be a part of that.