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Nebraska cautious as Nash Hutmacher returns from wrestling

Iowa’s Bradley Hill grapples with Nebraska’s Nash Hutmacher (right) in the heavyweight match on Jan. 12 at the Devaney Sports Center.

Fresh off an appearance at the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Nash Hutmacher wasn’t ready to take any time off from football.

Rejoining his Nebraska football teammates for the start of spring practice, Hutmacher would’ve immediately reclaimed his role in the heart of the defense if not for his coaches.

“He’s a guy right now that we have to pull out of practice as coaches just knowing the rigors he went through,” defensive line coach Terrance Knighton said of Hutmacher.

The physical transformation Hutmacher underwent from November to January and now to April is not lost on NU’s staff. Listed at 330 pounds in the fall, Hutmacher cut weight down to 285 pounds to wrestle as a heavyweight for Nebraska this winter.

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For as physically demanding as that period was, Hutmacher feels it’s made him better. From a physical standpoint, Hutmacher said his conditioning has improved because of training for endurance with the wrestling team rather than the quick bursts that are needed on the football field.

Additionally, it was an entirely new situation for an athlete whose most recent experiences on the wrestling mat had been of dominance. After a long absence from the sport, Hutmacher had gone from continually being the favorite to playing the role of the underdog.

“Wrestling was such a blast, it was so much fun,” Hutmacher said. “Getting to know all the wrestling guys, getting to be around more athletes in the athletic department was super cool and I’ve built relationships over there that are going to last a long time.”

As of Tuesday morning, Hutmacher said he currently weighs around 295 pounds. Additional weight will need to be added before the fall, but Knighton said Nebraska will “make sure we do it the right way” and be patient with Hutmacher in that regard.

That means a specifically tailored practice plan where the fifth-year senior is lifting, learning the playbook and doing some one-on-one drills  but not the 11-on-11 work Hutmacher has grown used to.

That means more time on the sidelines for Hutmacher — and more time with his teammates.

“It’s going really good so far just getting back into it,” Hutmacher said of spring practice. “It’s definitely nice to be able to help those younger guys and be in their ear the whole time coaching them up.”

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