Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nouredin Nouili Brings Gratefulness, Excitement to Nebraska for Final College Season

April 15, 2023

That familiar Nouredin Nouili smile stretched across the native German’s face once again on Thursday morning. He just completed Nebraska’s 12th spring practice. Another practice, another workout without a game to follow. Before he shared his excitement for his anticipated 2023 return, he stood in front of the cameras and delivered a statement concerning the last year.

“The day I found out I wasn’t allowed to play this past year was one of the hardest days of my life,” Nouili started. “And I’ve not only hurt this team and the fans but my family and I can assure you I’ve hated myself more than anyone else did. My parents have never been able to watch me play in person and that broke me.

“This past year was hard for everyone on this team, and for all the coaches that have come and gone, for all the people that have watched us, for everyone. This university has given me the opportunity to play at the highest level and I messed that up. Now that I’m back, I promise you and everyone out there that I would rather die on the field than have to watch another minute on the sideline. I’m giving everything for the ‘N’ and you deserve nothing less. I understand that some people will not like me or are disappointed for my mistake. But just know that I will never give up. And I will try my absolute best to represent the Nebraska pipeline and that I owe this university nothing less than everything.”

The NCAA suspended Nouili last June for the 2022 season because of a failed drug test. Nouili admitted fault at the time and tweeted a statement, rallying his excitement to 2023. He endured every practice and workout with the Huskers since last June, doing essentially every team activity except play in the games. The Colorado State transfer watched each game from the sidelines. He summarized that time by saying all he could do was work out and be the best teammate he could be.

Nebraska’s offensive line became the target of criticism as last season transpired. Head coach Matt Rhule said he didn’t buy into the narrative that the offensive line was the issue. Rhule chose to retain offensive line coach Donovan Raiola, while hiring Marcus Satterfield—a former offensive line NFL assistant—as the program’s third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Nouili said Raiola coaches just as he did last season, which is to say he’s the best coach the Norris graduate has ever had. Raiola is tough on the linemen so they can live up to a certain standard. Nouili appreciates that as much as he appreciated Rhule standing up for the offensive line.

“A lot of people can be behind us and give us a chance to be the best we can be,” Nouili said, “it means a lot to us.”

He’s still grunting it out in practice with familiar faces he squared off with last season. He’s also welcomed transfer arrival Ben Scott, who he said is hilarious and fits in perfectly with the Husker linemen, and early enrollees like Gunner Gottula, who Nouili said is right in there with the rest of the veteran guys. They’re all shuffling on the offensive line without set positions so coaches can piece together the best combination. When asked if he had a preference, Nouili said “o-line” with a laugh.

“Everybody’s kind of been thrown in everywhere to see what everybody can do,” Nouili said. “It’s hard, yes, but it’s really, really fun to be able to go through it with my brothers. It’s really fun to be standing next to someone who is heaving like you.”

Nouili gets a last chance to play this season. Schematically, he likes the new emphasis on running the ball. He also likes gritting through difficult workouts because of the teammates involved. Grueling workouts are easier when you can play the games on Saturdays. And without games, at least he had the comfort of grueling with his teammates. He gets both once again in 2023 with his brothers.

“Coach Raiola has put a huge emphasis on being together, believing together,” Nouili said. “Seeing through one set of eyes. We’ve been doing a good job of staying together. If you watch practice, we’re always together. You never see us outside each other. And that’s a really big thing. It shows that we’re all fighting for each other.”

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