Football: Fresh off first start, Nady prepares for UNLV
There was just no possible way that Jeff Nady could see himself wearing a red UNLV Rebels uniform.
“They recruited me pretty hard,” the Nevada Wolf Pack offensive tackle said this week.
“But I let them know early on in my recruiting that there was no way I could go there. My family wouldn’t allow it.”
The one family member he’d probably have to answer to first is his uncle Jay, a former Wolf Pack boxer and football player.
“Oh, yeah, he’s passionate about Wolf Pack football,” Nady said, smiling.
Jay Nady played in the first Wolf Pack-Rebels football game (won by Nevada 30-28) on Thanksgiving Day in 1969. Jeff will play in the 36th Pack-Rebels game on Saturday night at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium.
“I’m sure he’ll talk to me about the game,” Nady said. “He’s always a good supporter of mine and the team. This is a big game for everyone.”
Nady, a 2008 Douglas High graduate, will be making his first trip to Sam Boyd Stadium as an active player this weekend. The last time the Pack played in Las Vegas in 2008, Nady was a red-shirt freshman.
“I drove down by myself to watch the game,” said Nady, who has already faced two other schools this season (Colorado State, California) that recruited him heavily out of Douglas High.
“We want to bring the (Fremont) cannon back home and keep it blue,” said Nady, referring to the 500-pound prize for winning the annual Silver State showdown game.
It has been a dream season so far for the 6-foot-7, 290-pound Nady.
He was thrown into the starting lineup last week after starting tackle Steve Haley broke his arm the previous week against Cal. Nady, who had just six games of experience (all as a backup) under his belt at the college level, played every offensive play last Saturday as the Wolf Pack won at Brigham Young, 27-13, to remain unbeaten at 4-0.
“It was just a great atmosphere,” said the Pack sophomore of BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. “There were 65,000 people there and it was just a lot of fun to be on the field.”
The young Nady has already impressed his teammates and coaches.
“Jeff stepped right in and did a real nice job,” Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “Nobody had any doubt that he’d do a great job. He’s worked real hard and prepared for this opportunity.”
Nady saw time at both left and right tackle against BYU since he plays on the strong side with the tight end.
“Jeff performed well,” Pack head coach Chris Ault said. “And he’s only going to get better with more experience. I was proud of the way he stepped in when we needed him.”
The Wolf Pack offense gained 435 yards on 79 plays and punted just twice against BYU. The offensive line paved the way for 239 yards on the ground on 53 carries (4.5 a carry) and didn’t allow a sack.
“I think I played well,” Nady said. “There were a few things I missed but I’ll continue to work hard and get better.”
Nady, a part-time player before Saturday, said the task of playing 79 snaps wasn’t a problem.
“No, not really,” he said. “Our coaches make sure we’re in great shape. That’s never a problem on this team.”
Nady said senior guard John Bender, who played next to Nady most of the game, was a big help on Saturday.
“He’s a veteran guy and he helped me a great deal,” Nady said. “If I missed something he’d always make the right calls for me.”
Nady, like all of the Pack offensive linemen, took great pride in a 21-play, nine-minute drive on Saturday that resulted in a field goal and a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
“That was a lot of fun for us,” Nady said. “We’re a grinding team. That’s what we do best.”
Nady wasn’t expected to see a ton of playing time this year, playing behind Haley, a junior, and Jose Acuna, a senior. Next year, after Acuna left, was supposed to be his year to step in. Next year, though turned into right now very quickly.
“You always go into training camp preparing as if you’re going to start every game,” Nady said. “That’s the way you have to prepare yourself, whether you are playing every single snap or not. So I was ready for this.”
The 20-year-old, though, knows he’ll likely be back on the bench when Haley returns in three weeks.
“That’s going to be tough but all I can do is keep competing and stay ready if the team needs me,” he said. “But it will be nice having our depth (on the offensive line) back. That will help everyone.”