Opportunity knocks for former Idaho State linebacker
Just three days before Jarrid Nash was set to participate in an NFL regional combine last year, he suffered whiplash when his car was rear-ended by another driver.
Nash could have considered it a message from above that he should no longer pursue the game he loved. He wasn't about to do that.
"I gave it my all, but it wasn't enough," said Nash, an Idaho State product who grew up in Glendale, Ariz. "Basically, I had to suck it up and build off of it."
At the combine, Nash may not have been physically able to perform his best, although his football path changed when he met up with Ali Sarkeshik, a Southwest area scout for the Professional Developmental Football League. They exchanged information, and the Seattle-Tacoma Cobras liked what they saw from the 6-foot-1, 238-pound linebacker.
The Cobras signed Nash, who expects he'll be in camp by March 3.
"I'm looking to take advantage of this whole opportunity," Nash said. "After a while, you want to hang it up because you tried over and over and over again. There are ups and lows. But you have to hold onto it if you really want something.
"I'm glad I didn't (retire)," he added, "otherwise, I wouldn't be at this moment in time."
Nash played for Independence High School in Glendale and moved on to play at both Upper Iowa and Glendale Community College before he transferred with a full athletic scholarship to Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference.
"All my life I had been a city boy, but I have a country background," Nash said. "I like to go fishing, hunting, all that stuff. "(Going to Idaho State) broke me in. I get out there, and it's like, 'I'll manage, I'll adapt accordingly.' It was an awesome, awesome experience. I met a lot nice people out there."
The football field wasn't as friendly. The Bengals went a combined 2-20 between 2009 and '10, although there were highlights along the way.
Nash said he'll never forget sitting in the locker room at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium before the Bengals played the Oklahoma Sooners.
"That game was really important to me," he said. "I have a lot of family in Oklahoma. I wanted to go to Oklahoma so bad."
Nash said the student section filled up more than an hour before kickoff, and fans were chanting "Boomer Sooner" as they sat in the rain. It was so loud that the Bengals could hear it from inside their locker room.
"I know they weren't chanting for our team," Nash said. "But that got me exited, because that was cool."
Late in the fourth quarter in the midst of the Sooners' 64-0 blowout, Nash had what may have been the highlight of his college career. On third and 5, he lined up on the weak side of the formation and creeped toward the line. Oklahoma didn't pick him up when he blitzed, and Nash blindsided quarterback John Nimmo just as he started to move his arm forward to release the ball. It squirted out of Nimmo's hand, incomplete.
One week earlier, Nash made his first appearance with Idaho State when the Bengals traveled to play Arizona State in Tempe, less than a half-hour from his hometown. The Sun Devils had asked fans to show up wearing white, but Nash easily spotted his family.
"My mom, two of my brothers, my sister-in-law and my niece, they all wore bright neon orange shirts, right in the middle of the whiteout" he said.
Nash earned a bachelor of science degree in sport management in 2010 with a minor in marketing. As he went to receive chiropractic treatment for the whiplash he suffered last January, he met up with a former teammate who asked him about becoming a personal trainer. For the past year, Nash has instructed group training classes and had one-on-one clients in the Phoenix area.
"I've expanded my knowledge about the human body," he said. "And I can guinea pig myself on what I want to try (for clients). I'm always trying to get better."
Nash said signing with the Cobras is another chance to continue his football career. He'll get looks as both a linebacker or a pass-rushing defensive end, or possibly in the secondary at strong safety.
"I'm definitely excited, by all means," Nash said. "I'm looking to come out there and make an impression."
"I'm open to anything," he added. "I'll get in where I can fit in, for the most part. I'll definitely put my nose in anywhere."
Nash hopes this season leads him to an extended look with a team in an arena league, the CFL or the NFL.
"By God's given grace, having the opportunity to put the pads on yet again is a blessing," he said. "I'm going to ride it until the wheels fall off."
Idaho State: 2010 Played in all 11 games for the Bengals … was sixth on the team with 49 tackles, 20 of which were solo … tied for fourth on the team with five tackles for loss … recorded one sack for the season, coming versus the Eastern Washington Eagles … had his first career interception and a fumble recovery against Montana, as well as four tackles … also had three quarterback hurries … had a season high of seven tackles against Northern Colorado … matched that mark with seven tackles versus Portland State, along with one tackle for loss … had seven tackles again versus Montana State, as well as one quarterback hurry. 2009: Played in all 11 games for the Bengals, taking reps at both linebacker and as a rush end … recorded 17 tackles on the season, and led the team with 3.0 sacks for 22 yards in losses … also had 4.0 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, and a pair of forced fumbles … had a season-high four tackles against Oklahoma, including a sack for seven yards and a forced fumble … recorded a quarterback hurry in three straight games, against Central Washington, Eastern Washington, and Sacramento State … had three tackles in each of the last two games, against Montana and Portland State … had two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble as well against Montana … had a sack for an 11-yard loss against Montana State.
Junior College: Lettered for one year at Glendale Community College where he helped Glendale finish first in the Western States Football League in yards allowed per game (201.9) and second in fewest points allowed (14.4). UIC: Lettered in football for one season at Upper Iowa.
By Brian McLean