Might scenes such as this have been more plentiful against North Dakota State with Devon Nash on the field?
While it was revealed late in August that Devon Nash had left the team for personal reasons, I didn’t anticipate the loss would have much of an impact on the outcome of Friday night’s game against North Dakota State – I was tepid before the announcement and tepid after it, but couldn’t believe the Wildcats would actually drop the game; just keep it too close for comfort. I was wrong. K-State lost. I don’t know if Devon Nash would have made the difference in the game. In fact, I doubt he would have. But here in the sports coverage ether we exist in the land of what-ifs. So what if? What if Nash was available?
Jake Waters was the gem of the JUCO recruiting class, and his signing overshadowed the transfer of his teammate at Iowa Western, Devon Nash. Yet Nash was a great player in his own right, earning NJCAA All-American honors. He also offered something that K-State’s defensive line was in desperate need of Friday night: size. At 6’5″ and 260 pounds, he could have been a rock on a line that was abused all evening. He’s athletic too boot, and finished his sophomore year with 36 tackles, four sacks, and an interception return for a touchdown. He had even more tackles as a freshman with 44 – including eight for a loss – and five sacks.
There were questions regarding Nash’s ability to maintain assignment coming into the season, and he wasn’t slated to start even before leaving the team (the program has not elaborated on his departure beyond stating it was for “personal reasons,” and no one in the media knows enough to make a reasonable speculation regarding his decision. You’re not going to a statement on the matter here either). The two defensive slots looked to go to Ryan Mueller (who would start on most teams) and Marquel Bryant.
All the same, Nash was a great prospect. He had offers from around the nation – even from teams that don’t typically indulge in recruiting from the JUCO ranks such as Arizona State and Oklahoma State – and 247 Sports ranked him the NJCAA’s second best strongside DE in the nation. He reportedly struggled during spring practices and he played on the second squad during the scrimmage, with a sack of Daniel Sams being the only statistic credited to his name. I’m not dwelling on his shortcomings trying to transfer into a new system. The fact is, NDSU put together an 8 1/2 minute drive to win the game, running at will against a defense that looked increasingly tired and unable to maintain its intensity during the second half. During that last series at the goal line, there was no visible emotion from the defense. Would have been the perfect time to put a fresh player in there – a guy with a big resume and ready to demonstrate he was ready to get after it.
Nash may not have started this year, but then again, Ryan Mueller didn’t start last year – yet Mueller finished among the team’s leaders with 14 tackles, two sacks, six pass break-ups, and two fumble recoveries. This team needs talented players able to come in, help give the starters a rest, and produce once they find themselves on the field. If guys like Nash are available, maybe K-State pulls off that goal-line stand, Brock Jensen doesn’t find his way into the end, zone we’re not sitting here wondering what if…