Maliek Collins likes to stand out in a crowd.
A true freshman defensive tackle, he wears No. 7 on his Nebraska jersey "to be different," he said.
He wanted to play immediately this season, driven in part by the knowledge that true freshmen seldom make an immediate impact in the interior defensive line at NU.
Collins, in his backup role, has three tackles in the first two games, including a sack in last week's win against Southern Miss.
He has worked hard for his chance. He says he lost 4-percent body fat over the summer, and dropped about 15 pounds. The 6-foot-2 defender reported to campus weighing 317 but now weighs about 305, he said.
"I wanted to feel quicker and more confident in my movements," he said.
He also derives confidence from his experience as a wrestler. As a senior at Center High in Kansas City, Mo., he captured the Missouri Class 2A state championship with a record of 48-0.
"It's just the mentality of a wrestler -- knowing you can't give up," he said. "You have to keep pushing through whatever.
"It also helps with leverage and hip flexibility."
Collins, though, says his first love is football. He embraces the intensity of the college game.
"It's for real," he said. "You're going, going and going. There's not stopping. There's none of that."
Just the way he likes it.