LINCOLN — First, the Missouri River. Then some bass ponds around the area. That’s how Nash Hutmacher and his dad planned to celebrate Saturday’s commitment to Nebraska football.
The Polar Bear was going fishing after becoming one of the biggest, most important catches of the Huskers’ 2020 recruiting class.
The nose tackle from Chamberlain, South Dakota, one of NU’s top recruiting targets for months, selected the Huskers over Wisconsin and Oregon. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound product is also a champion wrestler who could compete and excel in that sport at the collegiate level. But football will be his sport, and Nebraska will be the spot where he plays it.
The Huskers won out, Hutmacher said, because of the coaches: Scott Frost, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, defensive line coach Tony Tuioti and running backs coach Ryan Held.
“They know how to have fun, but they also know when it’s time to get down to business,” Hutmacher said.
When Hutmacher took his official visit in April, NU was the clear leader, but a June visit to Wisconsin tightened the race. Hutmacher said the Badgers pulled nearly even. Both schools took him fishing, one of his favorite pastimes. Both had campuses and towns that Hutmacher liked. And though Chamberlain is three hours closer to NU’s campus than to Wisconsin’s, Hutmacher said distance wasn’t much of a factor once his family sat down and discussed the options.
The difference was Frost and Chinander, ultimately. Both small-town natives, the duo reminded Hutmacher of the older men in his own hometown. The guys he’d grown up around.
“I just like the way he is,” Hutmacher said of Chinander, who has called himself “a Midwest guy.”
Hutmacher called Nebraska to deliver the good news on Wednesday, a few days after going undefeated at a junior nationals wrestling tournament.
Naturally, Hutmacher said, Husker coaches were thrilled. NU had prioritized Hutmacher for more than a year. He’d made multiple visits to Lincoln. Though he’s a three-star prospect according to ESPN, Rivals and the 247Sports composite service, he’s more valuable than that to Nebraska because of his position and its importance in Chinander’s defense. You need, as coaches like to say, a “war daddy” at nose tackle. Nebraska was so hungry to find one this offseason that it signed graduate transfer Darrion Daniels from Oklahoma State. Chinander has said the best nose tackles are like “the heavyweight champion of the world.”
Hutmacher has certainly been that as a wrestler. He has won 124 high school matches in a row, often by wide margins and dramatic pins. Nicknamed the Polar Bear because of his size and blond hair, Hutmacher frequently throws opponents onto the mat with brute strength. It’s not hard to imagine a quarterback in that scenario. But nose tackle is also a grinding, thankless position that requires absorbing double teams and dirty blocks at the knees.
“I’m ready to hold down the middle of that defensive line,” Hutmacher said. Darrion Daniels will use up his eligibility this season, with Damion Daniels moving into that nose role for 2020. Norfolk Catholic graduate and 2019 signee Ethan Piper may play the nose, too.
Hutmacher becomes the sixth commit for NU’s 2020 class. The Huskers could get more commits in July. One, cornerback Josh Moten from Fort Washington, Maryland, decides on Tuesday between Nebraska and Texas A&M, ostensibly. Outside linebacker Blaise Gunnerson of Carroll Kuemper in Iowa could decide anytime between Nebraska and Iowa State.
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After beginning last season as a backup, Boe Wilson started the last nine games at right guard en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten status. Click here to read more.
Nebraska has had success in the graduate-transfer market under Scott Frost. That trend may continue with Kanawai Noa. Click here to read more.
Perhaps the final piece for Ben Stille is on-field disruption. With a full offseason of strength training, he could be the biggest in-house improvement on the team as a pass rusher and edge setter. Click here to read more.
Here comes Nebraska’s long-term answer at nose tackle. A season to learn under older brother and grad transfer Darrion Daniels won’t hurt for Damion Daniels, and neither will another offseason to build his strength and conditioning. Click here to learn more.
Nebraska's Mike Williams already has the speed, the hands and the understanding of the offense. If he can also be a consistent blocker, his playing time could spike as much as anyone on the team. Click here to read more.
Collin Miller made 17 tackles in 12 games as a reserve. Now, Miller's job is more clearly defined, and whether through ability or attrition, he will get a chance to prove his versatility and the fruits of his hard work. Click here to read more.
For all of Nebraska’s uncertainty at outside linebacker, Tyrin Ferguson represents perhaps the most reliable option when 100 percent. For the senior, though, being at 100 percent isn't always a given. Click here to read more.
Trent Hixson, from Omaha Skutt, got a taste of major college football while appearing in four games last year. Since then, O-line coach Greg Austin describes him as playing with “his hair on fire.” Click here to read more.
In a sense, Dismuke is the last man standing. Now the junior with 44 career tackles in 20 games (one start) is perhaps a favorite to start at safety. Click here to read more.
Nebraska's Kade Warner knows the offense, he blocks consistently, and he doesn’t drop passes. The 20-year-old wideout caught 17 balls for 95 yards in nine games last year. Click here to read more.
Noah Vedral, who followed Scott Frost from UCF, is as versed in the offense as any current Husker. If nothing else, he’s a valuable insurance policy for starter Adrian Martinez. Click here to read more.
Alex Davis played all 12 games last year with four starts. Until now, it’s been more about thinking than reacting for the 23-year-old whom teammates call “Ace.” Click here to read more.
Another offseason of strength training and familiarity with Nebraska's scheme gives Caleb Tannor the potential to become one of the team’s most valuable defenders. Click here to read more.
As a redshirt freshman, Austin Allen caught two passes for 54 total yards. The Aurora product will be in a battle with Kurt Rafdal for the second-string tight end spot behind Jack Stoll. Click here to read more.
Inside linebacker Will Honas only appeared in four games last season and racked up 15 tackles, including one for loss. This season he'll have beat out three others for that starting position. Click here to read more.
Miles Jones will line up all over the field. Nebraska’s thin at running back, so there’s a good chance he’ll get a decent load of carries. Click here to read more.
With how often Nebraska will rotate defensive linemen, sophomore Deontre Thomas will see the field as long as he’s healthy. And he may finally be able to contribute to a pass rush with his size and speed off the ball. Click here to read more.
There’s plenty of opportunity for Jaron Woodyard to make an imprint in his senior year. The junior college transfer still presents an opportunity to take the top off a defense, but only if he can find his way onto the field. Click here to read more.
Should he prove he can block and become a consistent option for Adrian Martinez, Andre Hunt could easily become Nebraska's third starting wide receiver. Click here to read more.
Noa Pola-Gates may need to pack on some weight this summer and fall to have a chance at playing right away, but the ceiling for the No. 2 player from the state of Arizona is high. Click here to read more.
The comparison to Dave Rimington by Scott Frost isn’t rubbing away anytime soon for Cameron Jurgens. He has a chance to start in on that legacy this year as the odds-on favorite to be Nebraska’s starting center. Click here to read more.
Kurt Rafdal averaged 16.8 yards per catch, fantastic for a tight end, particularly for a freshman. He gives Adrian Martinez a red-zone option should the NU receiving corps take a while to come along this season. Click here to read more.
Nebraska has struggled to keep linemen healthy the past few years, and if one goes down, Christian Gaylord could take over on either side if needed. Click here to read more.
Though young, Braxton Clark is a tall corner who will fit behind Lamar Jackson and Dicaprio Bootle. Click here to read more.
Matt Sichterman is a former three-star recruit from Cincinnati. He has put on weight and could move inside to a guard spot if necessary. Click here to read more.
You could argue the position group with the most question marks is running back, making Rahmir Johnson’s presence even more important. He ran for more than 2,300 yards as a senior in high school. Click here to read more.
Barret Pickering was money at the end of last season. As a true freshman, he nailed his final 10 field-goal attempts, including three in the snow against Michigan State for a 9-6 upset win. Click here to read more.
Nebraska's Joseph Johnson wears weight on his frame well after a redshirt season, and now he’s needed at inside linebacker, which has a firm alpha in Mohamed Barry and a lot of questions otherwise. Click here to read more.
Watching the tape of Quinton Newsome at safety is like watching a natural at the position. His ceiling as a safety is as high as that of Deontai Williams — who’s bound for a special 2019 himself. Click here to read more.
Isaac Armstrong averaged 43.6 yards per punt — ninth-highest in Husker history — and pinned the opponent inside its own 20 nine times. He can be a weapon for the Huskers this fall. Click here to read more.
The younger brother of starting right tackle Matt Farniok, Will is shorter but possesses many of the same qualities as Matt. Tough, athletic, plays to the whistle. Click here to read more.
In the right situations, Katerian LeGrone can be the kind of big-play guy Cethan Carter used to be for the Huskers. Click here to read more.
Honorable mention: QB Andrew Bunch, RB Wyatt Mazour, P William Pryzstup, DB Jeramiah Stovall, LS Chase Urbach, ILB Jackson Hannah, WR Jamie Nance, WR Darien Chase, QB Luke McCaffrey, DE Chris Walker. Click here for more on the Huskers that received honorable mention.