LINCOLN — Garrett Hustedt has gained two pounds already as a new Husker.
“The food that I get is just insane,” said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Husker walk-on.
Hustedt, an inside linebacker for the Shrine Bowl North team, gushed about the setup at NU — the workouts, the player leadership, the aforementioned nutrition program — in a way that mirrored his reaction on that January morning when Kenny Wilhite, NU’s director of high school relations, extended the walk-on offer Hustedt wanted so much.
“I was jumping out of my seat at school when that happened,” he said. “It was 11:30 a.m. and I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ ”
That school was Elkhorn Mount Michael, an all-boys Catholic college preparatory institution that does well in athletics but makes clear that academics are a top priority. Hustedt chose the school, in fact, for that reason.
“I wanted to go somewhere for football — and it was between Skutt and Millard West — but then I thought, academically, I wanted to be challenged,” he said. “I wanted to work hard so that, when I went to college, it wouldn’t be as difficult. So I went to learn good study habits. I wanted something better for myself.”
Hustedt flourished as a player at Mount Michael — as a senior, he had 101 tackles and 8½ sacks, often on plays where he’d first guard against the pass and then run down a scrambling quarterback. The school’s training helped him communicate professionally with coaches who were interested in recruiting him.
“Texting, emailing coaches — I had all that under my belt,” Hustedt said. “Now, as far as the notice from bigger schools? That was more difficult, I would say. But talent always rises to the top. I’m glad Nebraska saw that.”
His Shrine Bowl teammates saw Hustedt’s leadership, voting him one of the team’s four captains.
“A lot of kids respect him as a person and as an athlete,” said Burke coach Paul Limongi, who is leading the Shrine Bowl’s North team this week.
Limongi has good insight on middle linebacker play, given that former Burke linebacker Nick Henrich was one of the state’s big stars at the position. Henrich signed with NU and enrolled early. Hustedt, Limongi said, has to get more comfortable with the reads for the defense he’s running in the Shrine Bowl, but he has good physical tools.
“He’s very athletic, he’s got great instincts, he’s explosive, he’s fun to watch,” Limongi said.