By Travis Volz
While they do not get much of the glory, it is difficult to find good football teams without good linemen. Given their playoff run, it is not surprising that the Nashville Hornets had an excellent group of linemen this year.
After Nashville’s successful playoff season, three Hornet linemen, Colby Aussieker, Peyton Renken and Nick Wolf have demonstrated the skill required to keep playing football at the college level.
“This is the result of a whole lot of hard work by these young guys, trying to make themselves better,” Nashville coach Tim Kuhn said. “Its exciting for us as coaches, because we feel that getting players to the next level is part of our job.”
Aussieker will play at Lindenwood-Belleville, Renken is headed for McKendree University, and Wolf is headed for Southern Illinois University Carbondale after graduation.
For Kuhn, the success is all the more gratifying, as he has watched these players develop. All three played a lot of varsity football over the last few years, and this season was the culmination of that.
“These guys were kinda thrust into varsity football at a young age, and its been great seeing them turn into the kind of players they are now,” he said. “Each of these guys have earned the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Aussieker had no concrete plans to play college ball, but a scholarship offer from Lindenwood-Belleville changed his mind.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play in college, but I started visiting schools and found out how much they would cost,” Aussieker said. “Lindenwood offered a scholarship, and I thought I should jump on the chance.”
Aussieker was a key member of the dominant Nashville offensive line last fall, earning spots on the Southern Illinois River-to-River All Conference squad as well as the Belleville News-Democrat All-Area Team. But he is not sure which side of the ball he will play on in college.
“The coaches told me they’d probably use me on the offensive line, but they said they’ve got some spots to fill on the defensive line as well,” he said.
Kuhn said Aussieker has matured a lot over the last three years.
“Watching Colby grow up both as a football player and as a person has been a real pleasure,” said Kuhn. “He has put in the work, and now it is paying off.”
Aussieker plans to study criminal justice in the hopes of being a police officer after college.
A summer camp at McKendree helped Renken land a spot on the Bearcats’ roster next year.
“I went to McKendree for an offensive line/defensive line camp, and they talked to me there,” he said. “After their season the area recruiting coach contacted me and told me he liked what he saw.”
Renken played on both the offensive and defensive lines last fall and earned praise for both. He was named to the All South Team, earned all-conference first team honors on both sides of the ball, as well as inclusion on the BND All-Area Team for both offense and defense. His teammates honored him with the Most Valuable Lineman Award as well.
“Peyton had to grow up a lot in a short time,” said Kuhn. “We’ve asked him to do a lot over the last couple of years, and he really came through for us this year, and all of the postseason awards he won show that.”
Defense is what he likes best, and he is looking forward to lining up on that side of the ball for the Bearcats.
“I like to hit, and you can make big plays on defense, and defense wins championships,” Renken said.
Renken will not be the only former Hornet in McKendree purple. Nashville grads Travis Newman and Chase Hagene are on the squad, and Jordan Fark is the strength and conditioning coach for the Bearcats.
Despite missing a big chunk of his junior year, Wolf worked hard in the offseason and came back and had a dominant senior season.
“Nick had a knee injury that cost him most of his junior season,” Kuhn said. “He came back and put up some massive numbers in the weight room, and it showed on the field.”
Wolf comes from a football family. His father Dan is a longtime assistant coach for Nashville, and both of his older brothers played football in college.
Like his teammates, Wolf earned his share of postseason awards, including all conference offensive and defensive lines, as well as honorable mention for both offense and defense on the BND All Area Team.
The Salukis offered Wolf a chance to earn a spot as a walk-on and he plans to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Its basically a scholarship without any money,” Wolf said. “I will be a redshirt freshman on the defensive line.”
Although he played both ways in high school, Wolf says he is looking forward to playing defense at SIUC.
“I like scoring points, but I really like making tackles,” he said with a laugh.
The trio have played football together since junior high school, and Kuhn says that they serve as an example to their younger teammates of what is possible.
“These guys showed that if you work hard and handle things right off the field, good things can happen,” he said. “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
These guys will be taking care of things on the gridiron for a few more years now.
Colby Aussieker will play football at Lindenwood University-Belleville after graduation. Joining him at the signing ceremony are parents Cory and Christie Aussieker, and Nashville coach Tim Kuhn.
Nick Wolf will hit the gridiron for the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Salukis next year. He is shown here with parents Dan and Jama Wolf, as well as Nashville coach Tim Kuhn.