Returning to Nebraska gave Stephon Wynn Jr. his best option for a brighter future. The NFL hopeful now gets hands-on mentorship from an NFL veteran. Each practice with defensive line coach Terrance Knighton expands Wynn’s abilities and gets him closer to his dream.
“He’s been where I’m trying to go,” Wynn said on Thursday of the seven-year NFL veteran. “He’s played the position I play, he’s played at the highest level. He did it for a long time at a high level. That’s the main thing. I just soak in what he’s trying to tell me and he keeps it real with me and I really appreciate that from him. He knows I’ve got dreams and aspirations to get to where he’s been.”
Wynn transferred from Alabama last June and jumped into a whirlwind. Summer workouts, fall camp and the season started soon after he arrived. With a year under his belt, he feels more comfortable with his teammates and coaches. Before meeting the new staff, Wynn wasn’t sure he wanted to come back to Nebraska. Conversations with his family convinced him a final season in Lincoln was best for his future. He’s building that future now with Knighton’s help.
The former IMG Academy stand out said Knighton is “very detailed” as a coach. He’s passionate about football with decades of experience on the field, learning defensive line tactics under a plethora of coaches. Wynn wants to improve his overall inside movements this season. He feels he was “a little bit stationary” when he looks back at film last season. Defensive coordinator Tony White’s system shines with physical interior defensive linemen who can athletically move along the line. That gives Wynn a stage to showcase his abilities.
“I feel like I can come back and give myself a better chance to maybe go higher and get more opportunity,” Wynn said. “So I said why not take advantage of it.”
Aside from the pure football, Wynn’s also seeing health benefits with the new staff. Strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell and his staff helped Wynn build muscle mass since the end of the season. Wynn now weighs about 320 pounds. He wants to trim body fat and, ideally, play between 310 and 315, but would be fine going as low as 305. For reference, Wynn is listed at 305 on Nebraska’s online roster. He appreciates Campbell’s regeneration days, which are days focused on flexibility and mobility following multiple consecutive days of consistent physical practice. Those regeneration days focus on stretching muscles and maintaining player health.
In drills, Wynn is working on his first two steps and getting vertical. He didn’t work on vertical penetration much before but everyone in White’s defense has to capably get to the quarterback. Wynn also wants to shoot off the ball quicker and keep violent hands when attacking the offense.
Rhule’s coaching staff is intense during practice. They hold a high standard and demand physicality and purpose with every drill. Wynn sees the bond and collaborative focus all the coaches share as motivational. They’re all bought into the same plan for rebuilding Husker football. And they’ve been to the NFL, the dream destination for most college football players.
“As players it’s very encouraging to see that all the coaches are bought into believe that what he says and what he believes will make us a successful team,” Wynn said. “So it’s very encouraging to see.”
Does that mean there’s already some kind of change happening within the team?
“Definitely. You can definitely feel it,” he said. “It’s easy to see they’ve got each other’s backs so it’s like why can’t we have each other’s backs as well. So it really just brings us all closer together.”