BUFFS ROUNDUP: Friday, June 26, 2020
When he was a freshman playing varsity football for the Garden City High School Buffaloes, Trey Nuzum had a mentor for fast-tracking the learning curve of the nuances of playing both offensive and defensive line positions.
That was when Demarcus Elliott was completing his senior season as a two-way lineman for a Buffaloes football team that reached the quarterfinals of Class 6A that season. Elliott was named one of the top linemen in the state of Kansas that fall.
Fast forward to the summer of 2020 and Nuzum, now grown to stand 6-feet-4-inches tall and weighing in at 285 pounds, has kept his eyes on the track that took Elliott from GCHS to Garden City Community College and now to a starter as a nose guard on defense for the Indiana University Hoosiers in the Big 10 Conference.
“He’s been somebody I’ve looked up to ever since my freshman season,” Nuzum said this week, after a morning workout at Buffalo Stadium in week two of the re-opening of athletic practices across the state of Kansas. “He’s (Elliott) always been inspirational and I’ve wanted to be like him.”
In fact, Elliott played one season for the GCCC Broncbusters as a defensive starter on the line and then was a late recruit to Indiana, where he moved into a starting position and was named an honorable mention all-Big 10 lineman. He’s being promoted as one of the top five defensive linemen in the Big 10 for the upcoming 2020 fall season.
With the usual college scouts overlooking someone who is big, athletic, and talented, Nuzum faces the same recruiting problems that have beset many a southwest Kansas athlete. Recall Scott City’s Ron Baker was barely recruited for basketball at the Division I level. Many other talented athletes of the area have been hampered by the geographic landscape of rural western Kansas.
But now, Nuzum is making headway in his pursuit of a Division I football scholarship and his performance on a recent Sunday in St. Joseph, Mo., should be a potential launching pad for more recruiters at D-I schools to give more than a cursory look at Nuzum.
He applied for and was accepted during the winter months to participate in the Blue-Grey High School All-Star Game Combine (Heartland Super) on the campus of Missouri Southern.
During the afternoon session of June 21, Nuzum was voted the top overall lineman award which was factored by performances in the 40-yard dash (5.0 seconds), a standing long jump of 8-feet-2-inches and by bench pressing 185 pounds an astounding 27 times in succession.
“I don’t think I was first in any one of the categories, but when you add them all up, I guess that’s where I ended up first,” Nuzum said. “I was usually in the top 3 to 5 in all the drills. My standing long jump was really up there as most of the linemen were getting about 6 to 7 feet.”
Another drill that Nuzum and the other approximately 35 to 40 linemen had to endure was one where they run 5 yards upfield, and 10 yards back, and each player gets timed.
“They also interviewed us and asked us numerous questions about why we thought we should get an invitation to play in the all-star game, and other information they use to evaluate us,” Nuzum said. “I hope I can get invited to play in one of the games.”
There are several geographically-located Blue-Grey All-Star games, so Nuzum would likely be considered for a game played in the central states next year.
“I was surprised when they started giving out the awards,” Nuzum said. “I think working out on my own during the spring (due to the COVID-19 virus) when all high school sports were shutdown really helped me in pretty good shape.”
Nuzum would have been a three-sport participant at GCHS his junior year, logging key minutes for the basketball team and then would have been competing in the shot put and discus for the Buffs’ track and field squad.
Nuzum, much like other high school athletes, said the break in the spring became boring and he was just happy to be back into the summer workouts that will eventually see the Buffs football team do team camp and other practices in preparation for the hoped-for 2020 fall season.
“It felt good to get out there and compete again,” Nuzum said.
Thus far, his main offer for playing at the collegiate level has come from D-I Akron University in Ohio. But after the combine things are likely to change. Many college coaches attend these combines and also receive detailed analysis of the participants from the combine officials.
“I think some of the coaches had told them they wanted to see more of me, so I’m hopeful that this will lead to more recruiting options,” Nuzum said.
On the website http://www.bluegreyfootball.com, Nuzum’s name was mentioned among the notable performers. Former NFL players were in attendance and former coaches also participated. The summary evaluation said this of Nuzum: “Akron was the first to jump on the bandwagon of the 6-4 and 285-pounder. Now, Arkansas is in the mix. He’s on the fast track.”
GCHS head football coach Brian Hill said he was happy that Nuzum is now beginning to get noticed more by D-I coaches.
“He’s certainly shown a lot of people that he will be a great recruit for any program,” Hill said. “All of his marks were among the best, so I think he really stood out at the combine. We look for bigger things from him this fall.”
For now, Nuzum will resume the summer workouts with his teammates and prepare for the fall 2020 season which will begin in early September.
“There’s a lot of things to work for, and I just want to do my best and have opportunities to not only play in the all-star game, but to get the best offer I can,” Nuzum said.
It would be apparent that he may no longer be a sleeper recruit for major college programs.