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The North Wind

The North Wind

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Molly Birch
Molly Birch

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

    Senior linemen lead NMU offense

    It is often referred to as all guts and no glory. It is a position where individual fulfillment is derived from their collective achievement. A union of men who rely on those next to them as much as they do their own talents. A fight, play in and play out, inside the trenches, given the title, the offensive line.

    For Northern Michigan senior offensive linemen Jack Rustman, Nick Owens, and Jonathan Otto, unity and chemistry on the field have evolved through friendship and camaraderie off the field.

    Five years ago the three were, while by no means smaller, but youthful linemen and roommates as freshman on Northern’s football team. The group would evolve into assets to the team and to the 2009 season.

    “We’re all great friends now. I remember walking into my dorm room, and there’s this big kid with a cut-off shirt, it was Jack,” Owens said, recalling the first time he met his roommate, Rustman. “He was just a huge kid.”

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    Rustman is now a 6-foot-3, 310 pound mammoth, two-times team captain and anchor of the line from his center position. A staple of the line and a consecutive winner of NMU’s Most Valuable Offensive Linemen award and 2008 honorable mention all-conference selection.

    “Jack is just the nucleus of the offensive line pretty much,” Owens said. “He’s a real powerful player.”

    Head coach Bernie Anderson has nothing but praise for the four-year starter.

    “He’s been a real leader for us,” Anderson said. “He brings a toughness and great work ethic. Football is serious to him. It’s all business and he has a great desire to turn things around and win.”

    Owens, a prototypical hard-nosed guard, and Otto, a fleet-footed athlete in a tackle’s body, are both three-year starters along the front. This 2009 season, they’ve helped solidify the right side of the offensive line whose rush offense ranks first in the GLIAC in yards per game, averaging 260.7.
    Over their careers, the three seniors have collectively paved the way for nearly three miles worth of rushing yards and 50 rushing scores.

    “When we’re out on the field we don’t even need to say anything, we already know what’s going on and what to do,” Rustman said. “I know how Owens and Otto play, and they know how I play.”

    The 85 starts between the three have built the bond they forcefully impose upon defenses year after year. The true strength of an offensive line isn’t within the weight room or under the squat racks, but in the connection formed playing on the field.

    “There’s no other position that relies on the guy lining up six inches away from your foot and doing something with you on every play,” Anderson said.

    “You can always look at the guy next to you and know what he’s going to do and trust him,” Otto said. “You know he’s going to be there for you.”

    In an ego enriched and me-first atmosphere of today’s football, offensive line remains the lone position with little to no recognition.

    “Just because we don’t get the glory or touchdowns doesn’t mean we’re not out there competing,” Owens said. “It’s definitely appreciated amongst the team. I think everyone knows how good we can be.”

    Rustman stays modest with what little gratitude is given to the line.

    “I just don’t really care as long as we are winning,” he said.

    At 5-1 on the season and tied for first place in the GLIAC, winning is something this group of linemen are starting to get used to after four years of losing seasons in the rebuilding process of a team. Having fun while on the field is a big reason they’ve had success on the field this year.

    “You’re out there banging in the trenches every play and you have to have fun with it,” Otto said. “You’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be mean, but at the same time you have to have fun with it,” he said.
    Rustman felt the same.

    “We have so much fun out there. We make fun of each other. Right now there’s a little battle and competition between the left and right to see who’s the best side, it’s just a lot of fun.”

    The three seniors know what they’ve started since coming to NMU isn’t over just yet and the goal of becoming GLIAC champions has yet to be accomplished.

    “We know that we’re seniors and this is our final year here now,” Owens said. “I’m trying to play every game with all I have on every play and I know that Otto and Jack are doing the same.”