June 10, 2009

Where are they now: Mike Fultz

In the second installment of HuskersIllustrated.com's new weekly feature "Where Are They Now?", we caught up with former Nebraska All-American defensive tackle Mike Fultz (1974-76).

After playing five years in the NFL following his Husker career, Fultz returned to Lincoln in 1981 to take a teaching job at alma mater, Lincoln High School, where he serves as an industrial tech teacher as well as the Links' head football coach.

So how does one make the transition from NFL defensive tackle to high school teacher?

"Well, I got my degree in teaching from Nebraska, so it was always something I wanted to do. I've always had a passion for it, and I was lucky enough to get a job at Lincoln High right away and have been year ever since. I think it's been about 28 years now."

I know for a lot of former players the way things have gone for Nebraska in recent years was pretty tough to watch. How was it for you seeing your old team fall as low as it did just a couple of years ago?

"I'm not going to lie, it was tough. It was hard going to games and watching games on TV and see them get beat like they did. But I think they're getting things turned back in the right direction with Pelini in there."

That kind of answers my next question, but can you talk a little more about what you like about Pelini?

"I like the toughness and the attitude he brings. Before it looked like the team didn't have that fire we used have. Now with Bo and his staff, it seems like they're getting that back. That makes a big difference. Of course I also like how he's a defense guy."

Where are they now?
Player: Mike Fultz, 1974-1976

Current city: Lincoln, Neb.

Family: Wife: Linda

Current profession: Fultz received his bachelor's degree in Industrial Arts from UNL's Teachers College, and has taught Industrial Tech at Lincoln High School since retiring from the NFL in 1981. He also served as a long-time assistant on the Links' football team before eventually being promoted to head coach in 2006.

Professional career: Fultz was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 34th overall pick in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft. He played five years in the NFL with the Saints and the Miami Dolphins from '77-'81.

NU career accomplishments: A three-year starter at nose tackle from 1974-76, Fultz was a two-time first-team All-Big Eight selection as a junior and senior, and earned first-team All-America honors his senior season in '76.

In his first year as a starter in '74, Fultz was named the Big Eight's Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year, as he ended the season with 60 total tackles, 31 unassisted and eight tackles for loss. He currently ranks 40th on Nebraska's all-time career tackles list.

Are you confident that Pelini is the right man for the job?

"Oh yeah. He's already turned things around. He's a good coach. Nebraska is lucky to have him."

A lot of former players have talked about how much they appreciate Pelini and Tom Osborne's open door policy and the fact that they reach out to former players instead of locking them out. Have you been back to watch practices or chat with the coaches yet?"

"I went back a while ago and visited with Coach Osborne and toured the stadium and all the facilities. I think having Coach (Osborne) come back was a great thing for the program, and the whole athletic department. He's getting things back to where they used to be on and off the field."

When was the last game you attended?

"Oh, last year. The last game against Colorado. That was fun one. That touchdown by Suh was great."

Speaking of Ndamukong Suh, as a former All-American defensive tackle yourself, what is it that makes him so good?

"He's so strong and so quick that he's able to get up in offensive linemen so fast that a lot of them can't even get set to block him. Plus is technique is very, very good. He's able to beat guys a lot of different ways. He's going to be playing for a long time."

Having played at the highest level both in college and professionally, what's the biggest difference you've noticed in the game now compared to how it was back when you played?

"The biggest thing I've noticed is the speed of the game. It's so much faster now in every aspect. Players are so much bigger, stronger and faster nowadays, so the game as a whole has sped up a lot. That's the biggest thing."

Last question: If you were back in your prime and playing today, do you think you would be as successful as you were 30 years ago?

"Oh yeah, I could hang. I'd probably have to lift a few more weights and put on some more muscle, but I could definitely play today. I could teach these kids a thing or two."

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