The Wartburg football team has received some good news as three senior defensive starters will be returning for a fifth season.
Defensive back Chris McNutt, lineman Blake Beckman and linebacker Rob Rottler were granted medical redshirts by the NCAA.
For head coach Rick Willis, this is a big positive looking toward next year.
“It gives us a chance to have a lot of depth at positions,” Willis said. “You can’t replace experience.”
McNutt was slated to become a starter for the first time at cornerback, a change after playing safety in the previous season. He said this will give him the opportunity to help out at different positions, and he is excited to be able to help where he’s needed.
Last season was also the first year as a starter for Beckman, but he was able to play the entire season. He was injured throughout his first year as a Knight.
Beckman has made a successful transition from linebacker to lineman and he finished third on the team in sacks last year.
Rottler is the only player of the three who was a starter prior to last season and was even voted as a team captain. He took some time to come to a decision about whether to come back, but the decision became easy when he discovered he could earn an extra endorsement with his teaching degree by staying an extra semester.
While the situations may have been different for each player, the reason to return is one in the same, redemption for one last season.
“I really wish we could have won the conference last year, but getting to come back for one more year is really exciting for me,” Beckman said.
All three players will be looked to for leadership and strength and are some of the only remaining players from Wartburg’s 2015 Iowa Conference Championship team.
Wartburg will open their season next year at home on Sept. 9 against Monmouth College, but Rottler said the team needs to be ready to go all offseason in preparations for next year.
“This team has a chance to do something special, the outcome of our season next year is going to be determined in the next seven weeks and moving forward into the summer,” Rottler said.
McNutt echoed Rottler’s feelings and said he’s ready to make up for last season.
“I don’t like losing, no one likes losing,” McNutt said.