[Vandal] Vandal QB Handed In His Helmet For Spot In The Press Box
robiegruss at aol.com
robiegruss at aol.com
Thu Oct 21 09:30:43 PDT 2021
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoThursday, October 21, 2021
Vandal QB Handed In His Helmet For Spot In The Press Box
Despite medical retirement, former quarterback Nayar is still helping football team
By Stephan Wieber
MOSCOW — In practices, former Idaho quarterback Nikhil Nayar is seen giving out instructions to younger players or standing next to offensive coordinator Brian Reader with a clipboard and pages of plays.
On game days, he trades his old football helmet and pads for a black Vandals polo shirt, dress pants and a spot in the press box.Although he’s no longer listed on Idaho’s roster after medically retiring from the sport in the offseason, the fourth-year sophomore is still very much involved with Idaho’s football team.
“It was definitely hard, but the best thing for me was still being around the team, ’cause it still feels like I’m a part of this team and I can still help out,” Nayar said. “I have a job now and I really enjoy just being around the team, and that’s what my biggest thing was when I made this decision (to medically retire).”
Nayar, who studies bio engineering, has always been a brainy quarterback since joining the team in 2018. Even though he spent much of his time on the sideline as a backup, he was more than prepared when his number was called in comeback wins against Idaho State in 2019 and Southern Utah in the 2021 spring season.
“You can tell Nikhil loves football,” Reader said. “He really does — you could see that since the day he got here. He just brings good energy to the group and he was kind of the closer I guess you could call it.”
As a player, Nayar’s role was to always be ready to go — even if that meant studying film and mentally preparing from his bedroom in quarantine with COVID-19, like he had to do in the spring.
Injuries and the coronavirus ravaged the team in the spring and Nayar wasn’t immune. But that didn’t stop him from getting prepared for Southern Utah even though he’d have only a week of actual practice to do so and he knew CJ Jordan would be the starter.
When Jordan went down late in the third quarter, it was Nayar time.
Nayar led the Vandals back from a two-score deficit to beat the Thunderbirds 33-32 on March 27.
The Vandals went 82 yards on 15 plays in a gutsy final possession that included a fourth-and-6 conversion pass from Nayar to sophomore Nick Romano, and a 7-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Cutrell Haywood with just seven seconds remaining.
Nayar was given a rare moment in the spotlight and the Mercer Island, Wash., product shined. He finished the game 12-of-20 passing for 143 yards and two scores in about a quarter of play.
“When we called that play to Cutrell, I knew we were going to score,” Nayar said. “It was just a perfect sequence of plays and effort and hustle right there to win the game.”
It’s a moment Nayar will remember fondly.
“It was really fun watching him go in there and kind of have a payday off of all that hard work he put in,” Reader said.
In the offseason, Nayar had surgery to clean up cartilage in his ankle as well as a bone spur, leaving him without “really any cartilage left” in his ankle. It was a necessary operation and something he’d been struggling with, he said.
He spent all of fall camp in a walking boot and crutches, sticking it out with his teammates before eventually informing the team he would medically retire.While injuries are what eventually ended Nayar’s football career, they’re also what kickstarted his interest in his future career path.Nayar said he took an interest in biological engineering after tearing his ACL as a sophomore in high school. He wants to work on medical devices to help find solutions to sports injuries.
His original idea was to create artificial ligaments or tendons to help with injuries like the ones he’s suffered.
“Ever since that (injury), I was like, ‘I feel like I should try creating something to help speed up this process,’ ” Nayar said.The crutches and walking boot eventually went away, but Nayar remained on the field with his team.
He said the young guys will often come up and ask him questions about the offense since he knows it so well after four years, which keeps everyone relaxed since coaches are often busy running drills.
During games, he charts plays and coverages and tries to find defensive tendencies for the Vandals to exploit. Eventually, Nayar will leave the press box for the last time, just as he left the field for the last time as a player. Until then, Nayar’s big brain will continue to help the Vandals in any way he can.
“It’s great having a guy around who really studies the game, and he did and he still does,” Reader said. “It’s just nice having him next to you in practice talking about certain things when we need to and about what’s going on. Just a great set of eyes who can watch the game.”
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