Fourth-year sophomore Colton Feist has "grown up" this spring, according to defensive line coach Tony Tuioti.
Feist — a 6-foot-2, 280-pound walk-on from Yutan — is a player Huskers fans can expect to see a lot of during the spring game and this fall.
"He's been really awesome," Tuioti said. "He's improving since day one, but really excited about seeing his growth and development so far."
Feist, who appeared in four games last season, soaks up all the information from the film room and translates it onto the field. Though there's limited reps to go around a deep group of defensive linemen, Tuioti said Feist has earned his trust and, consequently, more reps.
"I bring that up time and time again to everybody in the room," Tuioti said. "You produce, you make plays with the reps you have, you make the most of those opportunities, you're going to get more, and (Feist) has put himself in the position where I trust him."
Feist is also leading by the effort that he gives every single play.
"He only has one speed — and that's 100% — and I love that about Colton," Tuioti said.
Jordan Riley is another player who has progressed throughout the spring. Riley battled injuries last fall but still managed to contribute in six games.
Tuioti said he's benefited greatly from spring ball and conditioning after transferring from Garden City (Kansas) Community College before the 2020 season.
The 6-6, 330-pound defensive lineman has taken 320-325 reps during 11-on-11 scrimmages this spring, according to Tuioti. That's similar to the number of reps starter Ty Robinson played during last season.
"Those all matter, (the reps) all count in terms of their growth and development," Tuioti said. "He's grown to a point where he's definitely a guy I can trust more now."
Tuioti has also been impressed by second-year freshmen Nash Hutmacher and Marquis Black, and true freshman Ru'Quan Buckley.
"The young guys have done a lot of good things that I'm really excited about," he said.
For the spring game, Tuioti wants to see how his players handle live situations with 40,000 fans in Memorial Stadium.
"Looking forward to seeing the young guys come out and compete and executing in a live situation," Tuioti said. "Just have everybody finish the spring game and be healthy because we need everybody."
Ready for fans
Austin Allen doesn’t anticipate feeling nerves Saturday when he plays in front of tens of thousands of Nebraska fans for the first time in 17 months. Maybe some younger players will, he said, but not the fifth-year junior tight end.
What he will feel — and what he expects the entire offense to show — is a sense of urgency.
“When we break the huddle we’re going to get lined up right away," Allen said. "There’s going to be no more jogging out there slowly and setting your feet and getting lined up. ... Everybody’s going to be on attack.”
Why hasn’t that been the case previously? Allen said part of it was grinding for more than a year behind the scenes and in empty stadiums. With Memorial Stadium around half full for the spring game, the adrenaline will be pumping.
“It’s a little hard when you have 30 fans in the stands — your parents — it’s kind of tough,” Allen said. “I think a lot of that energy feeds from the fans. It’s great that we’re going to have them back Saturday.”