Greg Kuhar Among Spring Risers

With several defensive tackles out for spring, Greg Kuhar found opportunity. So far, Fitz says, he's maximizing it.

Few prospects in Northwestern's recent recruiting history had the promise of defensive tackle Greg Kuhar.

A four-star on various sites with offers from Michigan, Iowa and Vanderbilt, Kuhar touted a frame that could wreak havoc on the interior. He chose NU to join his brother, Ben, and figured to replace Brian Arnfelt as the Wildcats' next dominant tackle.

The transition from high school to college went slower than expected, and Kuhar and failed to see the field during his freshman season. Then, with an opportunity to fill a starting spot along the line last fall, he injured his ankle. That's when the nerves set in.

"It was tough to start the way I did. Last year, when I finally got on the field, I was really nervous," he said to PW. "I was freaking out, just looking around and seeing all those people in the stands. But you get used to it and your nerves cool down.

"Now I'm really excited to show what I've got this year."

He's had ample opportunity thus far. Northwestern has six healthy defensive linemen available for spring practice sessions. With DTs Sean McEvilly and Max Chapman sidelined, Kuhar's been taking first-team reps alongside Chance Carter. Since making his first career appearance against Iowa last October, he's steadily settled in to the system. Now, the natural talent can be exposed.

"I try to get better every day. The D-line has had my back since the beginning," he said. "I feel like before, I'd have some bad practices and get down on myself. I can't do that now."

Northwestern needs a standout at defensive tackle this season after struggling at the position in 2013. If Kuhar, the only NU defensive player above 300 lbs., can prove to be a valuable member of the rotation, the Wildcats' run defense would see drastic improvements.

"Greg Kuhar is really coming into his own," Pat Fitzgerald told PW after Thursday's practice. "He's getting stronger and stronger, and getting more comfortable with being a college football player. I've been very pleased with his first eight practices. I fully expect him to be, at a minimum, a rotational guy this year."

Though we'll see countless shifts on both sides between now and Opening Day, this spring has given Kuhar some much-needed momentum.

"I plan on battling for a starting position," he said.

His upside is perhaps the most assuring thing from Northwestern's defensive tackles right now, and the player once intimidated by the crowd at Iowa is suddenly playing fearlessly.

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