One season and a position change later, Desmond Nutter has become one of the leaders of the Husson University football team’s defense.

“He’s been tremendous. He has a great motor and plays hard every day,” Husson head football coach Gabby Price said of Nutter, a Belgrade native and Messalonskee High School graduate.

The Eagles (2-2) defeated Castleton, 34-3, in their first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference game of the season Saturday. The remainder of Husson’s schedule is all conference games. The Eagles play at Anna Maria (1-3) on Saturday.

A 6-foot, 245-pound junior, Nutter started his college football career as a running back. As a freshman in 2010, Nutter had 10 carries for 32 yards, and three catches for 36 yards. He suffered a concussion in his sophomore season and was forced away from the game.

“I talked with my family and my doctors, and decided it was best if I took a year off,” Nutter said.

Nutter’s concussion symptons, which included headaches and dizzyness, lasted three months. When he felt better and was cleared to play, the Husson training staff felt a position change would help keep Nutter on the field.

“The trainers felt the best place for me to play was defensive end,” Nutter said. “It comes pretty natural to me.”

This season, Nutter is starting at defensive end. He has 10 solo tackles and assisted on four others. He’s second on the team with two sacks, and in tackles for a loss is second behind Ernest Wiggins, with five. Nutter is tied for fourth in the conference in sacks, and is tied for fifth in the ECFC in tackles for a loss.

“I’m getting back into the fast pace of the game. On defense, everything is really fast,” Nutter said. “There’s not really a lot of thinking. You’re just playing football.”

Nutter’s best game was Husson’s win over Alfred State on Sept. 21. He had five tackles in that game, including two for a loss. That game followed a game against Springfield in which Nutter was limited due to illness.

“There’s a big void when he’s out,” Price said.

Nutter’s work ethic is a big reason he’s been able to make the transition to defensive end, Price said.

“He loves to lift. He loves to work,” Price said. “He’s very popular with his teammates. Every day, he’s great to be around.”

Coming off a few down years, Nutter thinks the Eagles can become contenders for the conference title and earn a trip to the NCAA Division III tournament. Husson hasn’t had a winning season since 2008, Price’s last season in his first tenure as the team’s head coach.

“We’re definitely excited to have (Price) back,” Nutter said. “I think we can contend. I think we have the skill set.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com