Nesmith gets 2nd chance with 1st-year program
Central grad part of inaugural Georgia State football team
November 29, 2010
For the Forsyth County News
There was a moment when Nick Nesmith’s football career appeared to be at a premature end.
Nesmith, a former lineman on the Forsyth Central High School football team, suffered a season-ending ankle injury following the fourth game of his senior season in 2009. Adding to the disappointment, football wasn’t even the culprit.
“That weekend [after the game] I just took a wrong step and tore the ligaments in my ankle. ... I had ankle surgery and I thought I wasn’t going to play football ever again, much less college football,” Nesmith said.
Instead, he completed his ankle rehabilitation and prepared for a whole new “sport” — life as a freshman at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
But as fate would have it, Nesmith’s football career found second life at a college that wasn’t even playing the sport a year earlier.
“I started looking at all of the different things I could [do at GSU], and I noticed that Bill Curry had come to Atlanta and they were starting a football program,” Nesmith said.
He contacted Panthers Assistant Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator George Pugh to inquire about the team.
Following a few tryouts and an official visit, Nesmith was offered the opportunity to play as a preferred walk-on for Georgia State.
As for his position, Nesmith essentially played every spot on the offensive line before finally settling as the starting center on the practice squad, which he said “basically becomes the other team’s offense” and prepares the first team offense and defense for opponents.
“We even go as far as finding their numbers that they’re going to wear and getting those jerseys,” said Nesmith.
“It’s pretty fun to just get to fly around and go against our number one defense and give them our best competition.”
Though he admits center isn’t the most glamorous of positions, he’s thankful to gain the experience, wherever he may line up.
“You don’t get a lot of glory, you’re doing all of the dirty work. But it gave me a chance to really broaden my positions,” said Nesmith. “Now I can play every position on the offensive line.”
Coincidently, center is the same position Bill Curry played while at Georgia Tech and during two Pro Bowl seasons with the Baltimore Colts.
Nesmith tries to use Curry’s career as a model for his own.
“He was an ‘undersized’ center, so that kind of gives me hope; he’s had to work for everything he’s had,” said Nesmith.
“He sets a really great example for all of the young men coming through Georgia State.”
Nesmith says one of his favorite sayings from Curry is “Football is life marked off in 100 yards.”
“It’s true because you’re going to have adversity in football as well as in life and you’re going to [have to] keep being the best person you can be,” Nesmith said.
Georgia State finished 6-5 for the season, with an inaugural 41-7 win against Shorter College.
“Just making history was probably the best part,” said Nesmith. “It was just an amazing feeling … just showing how our work had paid off, that’s probably my favorite moment.”
No. 11 Alabama was the Panthers’ final opponent, and although the 63-7 loss wasn’t pretty, Nesmith sees nothing but positives from going up against such a formidable foe.
“Playing up to that level is going to help you out in the long run,” he said.
Moving forward, Nesmith expects a lot of growth for the Georgia State program.
“I think our team is just going to continue to grow. I can see our team blossoming into another big program, I definitely think we have the resources for that.”
Including family resources.
Jacob Nesmith, Nick’s brother, is a junior lineman at Forsyth Central.
“I just hope to pass down all the experience I have to [Jacob] and get him into college football,” said Nesmith. “It’d be really cool to play next to him or play against him in a few years.”
As for the future, Nesmith expects to build on this year and continue to fight for playing time on a rapidly growing football program.
And to think two years ago, Nesmith thought he was done with football for good.
“It’s through God that I’ve been able to get here because there is no other explanation,” he said.