Practice in full swing

NMU coach Nystrom is confident in his vision for football program

MARQUETTE — The Kyle Nystrom era is officially in full swing for the Northern Michigan University football team as the month long spring football practices the team is going through gives the head coach his first look at the players he will be suiting up this fall.

Early in the spring schedule, Nystrom’s confidence in the vision for the practices showed.

“Everyone’s showing good effort and energy with the new routines of the practices,” Nystrom said. “Our guys are learning technique, schemes and changes to the game compared to what they are used to.”

The Wildcats are three weeks into their four week spring season, which will conclude with a spring game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8.

Nystrom said his experience tells him the production fluctuates throughout the month-long training.

“We’ve done so much conditioning-wise, we have no concerns with where we are at,” Nystrom said. “Everyone’s positive the first week of practices, but we know after that the energy isn’t the same.

“We’ve done so much this offseason, everyone’s went through the grind. We’re handling all mistakes in a positive manner, and the best two words our guys can learn are ‘yes coach’ then move on.

“That’s how we operate, what we stand for and how we live.”

Nystrom inherited a number of players from the previous regime, but the program did lose nine seniors to graduation, some of whom held starting roles.

Nine more players were added on national signing day, who joined a team Nystrom said does not have any spots set in stone.

“This is the very beginning of starting to evaluate where players fall on the depth chart,” Nystrom said. “We won’t know or base it solely on this, but at least the process has started.

“Everyone starts at base zero, and I didn’t want to form opinions heading in. Everyone has a clean slate and you start to see the picture now. We’re installing the techniques but not practicing a lot as of now, and everyone is doing what we’re asking of them.”

Nystrom added that the roster is still a work in progress, with additions possibly on the horizon.

“Some positions are thin and we’re recruiting still to fill those holes,” Nystrom said. “We’re not going down the road of junior transfers.

“I don’t think that works at NMU. I could be wrong or right, but bringing a junior college kid from California to NMU won’t work in my opinion. I’m not going to gamble. We’re going to build the right way without Band-Aids.

“We want a good foundation that will endure.”

The change in leadership for NMU has brought a cultural change as well, which Nystrom said is the norm for every program across the nation.

With coaches and players becoming familiar with one another, Nystrom stressed the importance of following up with his words, which he said was demonstrated by making sure spring ball was wrapped up by mid April.

“We’re going to go hard until the end of the fourth week,” Nystrom said. “I want everything done before Easter so our people can enjoy their families without having a game the day before.

“Our priority is family and faith. If you’re going to talk that way, you have to back it up, so we’re going to get it done the week before.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.