Mick Stoltenberg

Mick Stoltenberg received the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award earlier this month. 

Mick Stoltenberg took a lot of pride in being a Husker and a Blackshirt. And now he's finding out that being an alumnus is also something to be excited about.

"These next few years are going to be something special for the program," Stoltenberg said Thursday on "The Bottom Line." "It means a lot to be an alumni now, knowing the things are in place to start to get rolling."

Stoltenberg completed his Husker career as a multi-year starter and team captain. He had six knee surgeries, though, which means he's hit the end of the road as a player — though he now hopes to embark on a college coaching career.

But before he sets down that path, he's taken time to reflect on his time at Nebraska.

"Obviously I'm going to miss the games and the anticipation of getting ready for a game, coming out of the tunnel at Memorial Stadium," Stoltenberg said. "But the thing I'll miss the most is the relationships. ... Those are the guys I saw every day and worked with every day for hours and hours, so I'm going to miss those guys a lot."

Watch the full video from Stoltenberg's TBL interview at the top of the page, or check out a transcript of select excerpts below:

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On whether his career "flew by":

"Absolutely. Especially it being five years, going that extra year with a redshirt. It went by fast, especially once I got to start playing a little more. That's when it started to fly by. It seems like you're waiting forever when you're a redshirt and on the scout team, so it started going fast probably around that third year, but there was no looking back."

On why he injuries prevented him from pursuing a professional playing career:

"It was a tough last few years for me, things stacking up on top of each other. It was a crazy transition, crazy last few years with all the surgeries and everything. When they start to pile up on both knees — I had three on each knee — that's when you know. (I hoped to) finish out the season and then see how they feel and go from there. But after talking to the trainers and the coaches, I decided that was probably the best route for me going forward. Long-term health was definitely a question, so that's the decision I ended up making."

On why he was so determined to return to the field this season:

"The guys in that locker room. It means so much to me, especially the guys I've been there with through all the transition and chaos over the last five years. Plus, just this younger group of guys as well. Especially with the way the first half of the season went, I wanted to do everything I could to get back and help out the D-line and the rest of the team. Right when we discovered I would need surgery after that Michigan game, the No. 1 goal was to get back as soon as I could."

On when he started to feel most comfortable playing:

"I found my groove the most my junior year when I was playing nose, just because it was my second year starting. I had a lot of experience under my belt. Who's to say if I would've been at a different position I might have felt better somewhere else, but that's where I felt like I was hitting my best stride was definitely that junior season."

On the game he'll remember most:

"The game that stands out the most for me unfortunately was a loss, a close loss. It would've been 2016 at Camp Randall in Wisconsin, that night game that went into overtime. We were undefeated going into that game. If that game goes the other way, who knows what could've happened? It kinda derailed the whole season. But that was a really fun, competitive game to play in and one I'll always wish a couple plays would've gone a different way. It's one that'll always stick out."

His advice for the younger Husker players:

"As cliche as it sounds, keep your nose to the grindstone and keep working. There's a lot of things that might change that could vary throughout your career. For me, a lot of things changed and a lot of things were different. I don't think that's going to be the case for this young group as far as the coaching staff changes. There are things you can control, and those are your consistencies, your effort, your attitude, your love for your teammates, the intangibles that you can't learn. Those have to mature in you as you continue to get older and learn. Those are the types of things that as a senior and as a captain I tried to instill in those younger guys so they could get used to that type of culture."

On wanting to become a coach:

"I really realized that was what I wanted to do probably when I started to get a little bit older in college football. When you get younger guys coming in, you take them under your wing and you hold your own player-led defensive line meetings. I really enjoyed teaching the guys the techniques and watching film with guys and explaining things and telling them what they can improve on. Then it was awesome — I'll use the Davis twins as an example — you'll tell them how to do something or change something in a pass rush or their footwork, and it does come to fruition once you get out on the field. Obviously not taking away anything from what the coaches were doing, but there's always so much more you can teach. There's only a little amount of time you can meet with the coaches, so I had a lot of fun doing that. I developed a passion for it. And I think that I definitely want to be a leader in football going forward."

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