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Friday, February 22, 2013
Exit Interview extra: DL Brink on his career

By Michael Rothstein

"Exit Interview" is a series started at WolverineNation last season in which we speak with Michigan players who are leaving the Wolverines.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nathan Brink started from the bottom as a preferred walk-on and worked his way up, the cliched story of a guy doing everything he could to be a college contributor.

Then, in an instant, it all disappeared as an injury forced Brink to retire with a year of eligibility remaining. Between his arrival and the end, he became a rotation player on the defensive line, making three tackles -- 2.5 for loss -- in 16 career games and one start.

Nathan Brink
Defensive lineman Nathan Brink made three tackles, including 2.5 for loss, in 16 career games and one start.
You can read more about his battles with concussions here.

Q: When did you realize you might be a contributor at Michigan? A lot of walk-ons, that is never in the cards for them.

Brink: My freshman year I came in and it was pretty obvious I wasn’t going to play my freshman year because of size and strength issues. I decided to be on the scout team and I earned scout team player of the week four times and was scout team player of the year my freshman year. My redshirt freshman year, the coaches were telling me good things, just that I needed to add some size. Needed to add weight. That was my biggest uphill battle. My sophomore year I got a little bit of play during reps but it didn’t work out and I was back on the scout team. But my coach was still positive with me every week.

When Coach [Brady] Hoke’s staff came in, I started off spring ball as the No. 3 nose tackle and I think that was mostly because I never played. They didn’t know who I was. I talked to Coach Hoke initially about switching to tight end because I was a physical kid and could contribute somewhere. So I was third string D-end going into spring ball. After the first three practices, coach [Aaron] Wellman sat me down and told me they liked my work ethic and I bring effort every day and it is something they were looking for. If I could add weight, I’d have a good chance of playing here. That was the first time I knew it was becoming real. I really could do this. I set that as a goal, tried to gain as much weight as I could and next fall, I’m in the rotation.

Q: When you started to play and get more time, do you realize what’s happening in the moment? Or does it not happen until after?

Brink: It’s more after it all happened. The first game, Western Michigan, I was more nervous for that game than Alabama this year. It was my first time being on that field in the Big House, touching the banner knowing I was going to play. It was surreal and kind of funny to look back on.

Q: What was the best moment of your career?

Brink: One is the Sugar Bowl victory. Even though I was injured and not able to participate in the game, that was a culmination of all the adversity our upperclassmen, our seniors, had gone through. That was an unbelievable memory, winning the Sugar Bowl. And being awarded a scholarship this year. That was a big personal goal of mine since I came here. That was my whole goal coming to fruition.

Q: When you look at the totality of your career, how do you view it?

Brink: I’d say I view it as someone who progressed and improved and tried to improve each day. I never took a day off, always tried to find something to improve. I wasn’t always the best and it wasn’t pretty always. But I always tried to give 100 percent effort no matter what it was, what drill it was. Whether it was important or not, take everything seriously and pay attention to details and do whatever my coaches asked me to do so when I left I would never have any regrets. That’s why I don’t have any regrets today. I always put effort into everything I did and tried to invest as much as I could into the program.