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Mark Philipp is in his second year as Nebraska's head football strength coach. He previously worked for Mike Riley at Oregon State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Philipp was a defensive tackle and team captain for Southern Illinois in 2005, and still looks like he could do some damage in the trenches.

We hear your dad, the late Marceko Philipp, was an excellent rugby player, and a big man.

"He was, like, 6-foot-7, maybe 330 pounds. A massive human being. His calves were so big, they wouldn't even fit into jeans. I think he played halfback. I don't even know what that means, to be honest."

Was your dad an inspiration to you as a young man?

"My dad was a selfless human being. We had family that came from (Samoa). I don't know how many family members we housed. He switched his work schedule to make sure he could take us to school and pick us up. He worked graveyard shifts. Just an awesome human being. He was a big cheerleader for me and my brothers. The area where we grew up, in San Bernardino, California, is pretty bad. But he made sure he was there for us."

Who would you say is a sneaky strong player on the team — a guy that maybe gets overlooked in that regard?

"Ross Dzuris. You look at Ross and his awesome mustache, he's just really deceptive. He's a really, really strong kid. I love his attitude. The thing is, there's a difference between being a body builder and actually being strong."

Who would you say is recognized throughout the team for his strength?

"There are quite a few guys. But I'd say Luke McNitt. The dude cleaned like 385 pounds ..."

You have said you think a lot of Jerry Kill, who was Southern Illinois' head coach while you played there.

"He loved you up. Tough love. He demanded a ton from you. He definitely helped me out. I wasn't always on a straight-and-narrow road. He helped me get where I'm at today. When I first got the job here, he called me up and congratulated me. It was awesome."

— Steven M. Sipple

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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