Indianapolis — Carl Nassib recalls the reaction he got from Bill O’Brien, then his coach at Penn State, when he said he hoped to play in the NFL.
“It was interesting,” Nassib said on Saturday of that chat after their second season together in Happy Valley. “He didn’t necessarily agree with my ambitions. He told me how he felt and I took it as he said it.”
In a matter of months, Nassib could very well prove O’Brien wrong. And just about everyone else who took one look at him when he walked onto the Penn State campus as a 215-pound nobody. Unlike most of the prospects at this week’s Combine who were top recruits out of high school, Nassib spent most of his football life as the kid brother of Ryan, the quarterback who played at Syracuse and is now on the Giants.
“I always kind of felt for him in a way because I knew he was trying to make his own name for himself,” Ryan said in December. “It was something that kind of motivated him too, to be able to have the kind of year he did this year.”
This season Nassib exploded on the scene, led the nation with 15.5 sacks as a 6-7, 277-pound defensive end, and won the Lombardi Award as the top lineman or linebacker in college. And in April, he’ll likely be selected in the first half of the draft.
“I mean there’s some satisfaction in proving any person wrong,” Nassib said, and if that’s the case he has a lot of it. As for O’Brien, now the coach of the Texans who has a 1-in-32 chance of coaching Nassib again, Nassib said he does not have a grudge for his doubting coach.
“I don’t hold anything against coach O’Brien,” he said. “Without his motivation I don’t know if I would be here. I’m thankful for him and thankful for what he taught me.”
A reunion with O’Brien would be interesting. A reunion with his brother Ryan would be special. Nassib said he did meet with the Giants at the Combine.
“That would be awesome,” Nassib said of the possibility of being drafted by the Giants, just as Ryan was. “I would love to be on his team. It’s a fickle draft and chances are slim. But you never know.”
The Giants will want to load up on pass-rushers, so Nassib’s name will likely be on their board. But the more likely scenario will have Nassib on another team. Possibly one day playing against his brother.
“Both scenarios sound pretty awesome,” Nassib said of playing with or against Ryan. “So awesome.”