Sets sights on future Division I career
Like so many other western Kansas high school athletes, there were few major NCAA Division I schools that expressed an interest in offering Garden City High School offensive/defensive lineman Trey Nuzum a full scholarship to play for those institutions in the fall of 2021.
So, in the plan previously experienced by former Buffalo teammate Demarcus Elliott, Nuzum has opted to go the NJCAA route, signing on Wednesday morning to play next fall with the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons, who compete in the tough Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
Nuzum’s decision to ink with the Blue Dragons came at perhaps the 11th hour due in part to a final push by the HCC coaching staff over the previous weekend to express their interest in having Nuzum put on the Blue/Red uniform in the fall.
“They really came in and sold me on what they thought I could do playing for them, and what they could do for me moving ahead to a higher level,” Nuzum said after his signing ceremony, attended by family, classmates, teammates in the GCHS gymnasium alongside Buffs’ head coach Brian Hill.
Nuzum, at 6-4, 290 pounds, will be vying for playing time on either side of the ball, although he indicated the Hutch coaching staff felt that the defensive side of the ball would most likely be where they have him located in his freshman season.
“They just were able to come in a talk about what I should and could be thinking about for my future,” Nuzum said. “In the end, their line coach talked about how they prepare their players to move on to the Division I level and that in the past two years Hutch has sent more (18) linemen onto D-I schools. That was important to me.”
Nuzum said he had been leaning toward Butler Community College in El Dorado for the prior weeks, but when both schools made their pitch and offer of scholarship/room and board/tuition/books and fees, the Hutch offer was also better.
“They have great facilities in Hutch, and they’ve got an outstanding strength coach with a great weight room,” Nuzum said, “and their food service is really amazing. I can get the type of nutrition to make me healthier and get bigger and better.”
Since last summer, the entire football playing season of 2020 and other events have been somewhat of a roller-coaster for Nuzum.
In the summer, he attended a Blue-Grey All-Star football camp in St. Joseph, Mo., and was voted the top lineman of that camp. But offers didn’t immediately follow. The Buffaloes struggled throughout the campaign, but did win two of their last three games, losing in the Week 9 play-in game to Manhattan by a single point to see the season end. That concluded a 3-6 season for the Buffs after two consecutive 2-7 seasons which followed his freshman season of 8-3 and the Buffs making the 6A state quarterfinals.
Nuzum earned first team Class 6A all-state honors as an offensive lineman by the Kansas Football Coaches Association, and was also invited to participate in one of several Blue-Grey All-American Bowl games in January at AT&T Stadium in Dallas where the Dallas Cowboys play.
Nuzum also was named to the 2021 Kansas Shrine Bowl West team in a game that will be played this summer (June 26) at his future home field – Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson. That game will kick off at 7 p.m.
The Buffs’ standout also will finish out his high school career competing in the discus throw and shot put events for Coach Hill in the spring before departing for college. He hopes to challenge the school record in the discus set by Bill Preston in 1976 at 170-10. Having missed his junior year due to the COVID-19 lockdown of spring sports, Nuzum had placed at the 6A state his sophomore year and had eclipsed the 160-foot distance then.
He looks back on his Dallas Blue-Grey experience as a great learning opportunity.
“We had two days of practices together and I played with guys from all over the country,” Nuzum said. “It was a lot of fun to see how we got along and really came in not knowing each other. We had some great coaches who had previously played or coached in the NFL.”
Nuzum said the speed of the practices was one of the most eye-opening experiences.
“Everything was right on point, and you just did what they said,” Nuzum said. “It was intense and just a higher level of coaching.”
Competing for the East team, Nuzum’s squad lost a high-scoring affair 55-45, and he got to be in on about 30-32 plays at both defensive end/tackle positions.
“It just makes me want to go harder and work harder as I move to the next level,” Nuzum said. “It gives me more of an idea of what college will be like. I felt like I held my own.”
Nuzum said he was excited to have the chance to play in the Shrine Bowl, a dream of his for many years following other Buffaloes who also have competed in the big game.
“It will give me a chance to play against the best Kansas players so I have a chance to prove myself,” he said.
Nuzum said he didn’t get a lot of recruiting activity from the local coaching staff at Garden City Community College, but he had pretty much made up his mind he wanted to go elsewhere to play his first year.
“Everybody has their reasons for either staying home or going somewhere else,” Nuzum said, “and I just think for me, it allows me to focus on what I’m doing and get better both on the field and for my classes.”
His current goal is to major in exercise science, with perhaps a focus on being a physical therapist and also studying kinesiology.