By Lindsay Minch
Lincoln -- Fighting on the field is not often regarded with respect or promoted by coaches.
However, Nate Kolterman sees the squabbles he initiates as one of his primary roles as a Husker.
The senior offensive tackle takes pride in his ability to rough up his teammates during practice in an effort to fire them up when enthusiasm seems to be lacking. Kolterman feels that a key attribute he offers to the program is his ability to act as a vocal leader.
"Since I have been here, there have been different styles of leaders," Kolterman said. "Former players like Jason Peter and Grant Wistrom were the examples of leaders that Nebraska had to offer. They spoke it and they did it on the field, too. Now, there are several types of leaders. There are guys who speak it and guys who lead by example. They all accomplish the same thing, they just do it a different way now. I just try to keep the intensity up by getting in my teammates? faces and riling them up."
A product of Seward, Neb., Kolterman has been plagued by injuries throughout his tenure at Nebraska. In 1999, his first year out of a redshirt season, Kolterman tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and only saw action in one game. He had his left and right knees scoped in the seasons following.
In 2000, Kolterman played in three regular-season games, plus the Alamo Bowl. He had seven pancakes and notched a career-best six against Baylor.
In 2001, Kolterman was on the field in nine games and the Rose Bowl. Since having his right knee scoped for a second time following the Rose Bowl, Kolterman is back to nearly 100 percent and is a backup for junior Dan Vili Waldrop on the line.
"My injuries have caused a lot of rehab and time spent in the training room, but I haven?t missed any time during the season," Kolterman said. "It has been tough as far as playing, but you just have to get through those bad situations. Things don?t always work out the way they?re supposed to, but life goes on and you have to go with it."
One might look at Kolterman?s extensive list of injuries and wonder how he continued over the years. He notes that his fellow offensive linemen played a huge role in his motivation.
"The offensive line is very close," he said. "We do everything together. I look up to those guys."
Kolterman?s contributions to the squad go far beyond tackles and pancakes. He has been a Teammates volunteer and currently serves on the Nebraska Football Unity Council. Kolterman doesn?t take the leadership role lightly. Unity is an essential aspect of team cohesiveness, he said.
"Nebraska promotes unity in a big way," said Kolterman. "There are a lot of schools that try to use Nebraska?s model of promoting unity within their teams. When a ball bounces the wrong way or something goes wrong, it allows you to turn to the guy next to you and know that you?ll have his support."
An animal science major, Kolterman is on track to graduate in December. He intends to pursue a career in an agricultural setting. As with each of his fellow seniors on the team, Kolterman anticipates a certain degree of emptiness upon completion of his career at Nebraska.
"Living close to Lincoln, I came to a lot of Husker games when I was younger," he said. "Football has played such a huge part in my life for the last four years. Things will be very different without it."