He's nicknamed the Polar Bear, and who wouldn't enjoy that?
"I actually like it," Nash Hutmacher said Saturday. "It started when I was in the eighth grade or as a freshman. Some of the wrestling parents started calling me it, and it kind of grew. Now everyone knows about it. I think it's a good nickname."
The Polar Bear injected some serious heat into the Nebraska football recruiting world late Saturday morning. A native of Chamberlain, South Dakota (population 2,390), the 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive lineman verbally pledged to join the Huskers' class of 2020.
He picked Nebraska over finalists Wisconsin and Oregon, announcing his decision on Twitter.
"The biggest reason for me is just the people," he said, first mentioning Husker second-year head coach Scott Frost. "I love the Nebraska coaches' mentality and attitude toward everything. They're really good guys and they have a winning attitude, obviously. It's where I want to be."
Hutmacher is a three-star recruit according to Rivals while earning four stars from 247 Sports. In addition to his prowess in football -- 247 Sports ranks him as the class of 2020's 27th-best D-tackle -- he is a three-time state wrestling champion. In fact, he pinned four opponents at this year's state meet in a total of 1 minute, 59 seconds.
He told the Journal Star in February he kept in near-daily touch with Frost and running backs coach Ryan Held.
"I would say for sure they've made me feel like a priority," Hutmacher said. "They're texting me all the time, and they were coming up to see me just about every week."
He said Saturday his final decision was "pretty hard" until recently.
"As the process went on and on, I started feeling it was just Nebraska, and it was where I wanted to be, so it got easier as it went on with the more I thought about it," he said.
The defensive line is arguably the biggest need area of Nebraska's 2020 class as NU currently has five scholarship defensive linemen, including nose tackles Darrion Daniels, Carlos Davis and Vaha Vainuku. Hutmacher seems capable of playing any of the spots along the line in the Huskers' 3-4 system.
Nebraska was the first Power Five school to offer Hutmacher a scholarship. He becomes the third player in the past seven days to pledge to NU's 2020 class, joining cornerback Tamon Lynum of Orlando, Florida, (6-2, 177) and offensive lineman Alex Conn of Derby, Kansas (6-6, 275). Of the six players in the class, four are within a 500-mile radius of Lincoln -- Hutmacher, Conn, receiver Zavier Betts of Bellevue (6-3, 190) and offensive tackle Turner Corcoran of Lawrence, Kansas (6-6, 270).
Hutmacher sounded excited about his decision. He considered Saturday a major day in his relatively young life. He'll now turn his attention toward the U.S. Marine Corps junior nationals wrestling tournament, which begins July 12 in Fargo, North Dakota. That'll be his final wrestling event of the summer.
He'll shoot for a fourth state wrestling crown come February. But that likely will mark the end of his wrestling career.
He said he'll miss it "a lot." He thinks wrestling helped improve his toughness, leverage and use of his hands -- which all directly correlate to defensive line play.
"I don't think I'm going to wrestle (in college) just for the fact it's a lot of wear and tear on your body," he said. "And if I want to be really great at either sport, I probably should just pick one to do -- at that level, anyway. I'm excited to get there and play football."
|Zavier Betts||WR||6-2||190||Omaha (Bellevue West)||****|
|Alex Conn||OT||6-6||280||Derby, Kansas||***|
|Turner Corcoran||OT||6-6||280||Lawrence, Kan. (Free State)||****|
|Blaise Gunneson||LB||6-5||250||Carroll, Iowa (Kuemper)||***|
|Nash Hutmacher||DT||6-5||305||Chamberlain, South Dakota||***|
|Tamon Lynum||DB||6-2||170||Orlando, Fla. (Evans)||***|
|William Nixon||WR||5-11||185||Waco, Texas (Midway)||***|
|Logan Smothers||QB||6-2||200||Athens, Alabama||****|