December 30, 2007
Making the most of second chances
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Tomorrow, linebacker Jeremy Nethon will play his final game as an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
For the second time.
In 2005, academic issues and tardiness to team meetings earned Nethon the boot from head coach Mike Gundy. After a year away from football, Nethon asked to re-join the team - as a walk-on. Realizing he had received a huge second chance, he didn't squander his opportunity to play college football again.
Two years later, the senior from Beggs has a chance to repeat as a defensive bowl MVP. In last year's Independence Bowl, Nethon had a monster game en route to the defensive award, posting 11 tackles (seven solo) and helped contribute to limiting Alabama to only 276 yards of total offense.
On the eve of his final game in orange, Nethon talked to the media about what he's been through.
"You don't really know how much you have until it's gone," the 6-0, 225-pounder said. "And not being able to run out on the field on a Saturday and just having to watch the away games. Just watching on TV, it is a whole lot different. For coach Gundy to give me a second chance and me taking advantage of it is something that will stick with me forever."
"Jeremy is a guy that's had a lot of ups and downs in his career," Gundy said. "He's matured considerably in the last couple of years. It has helped him on the playing field, because when he made a mistake a couple of years ago, he didn't handle it real well on the sideline. Now he understands, okay, a mistake has been made and you can't go back and change it. But what you can do is find the solution to the problem and make sure it doesn't happen again and make up for it by playing hard in the next series.
"That's where he's really come a long way as not only a player but as a human being. He's developed a lot in that area which has helped our defense in some of our younger players."
This season, Nethon was a vital part of a maligned OSU defense, recording 40 tackles in only 10 games. And tomorrow at Sun Devil Stadium, it officially comes to an end. A bowl game being his finale is appropriate, since he is one of a select group of Pokes to have been a part of four bowl teams. Nethon was a freshman in 2003 and went to the Cotton Bowl, the Alamo Bowl in 2004 and the Independence last season.
"With me going into my last game, I think I played every game like it was my last game," he said. "And I think this game is no different from any other game, because football is a game of inches and injuries and things like that, so you don't know what's around the corner."
Will he be able to handle the emotional aspect of playing in his final game tomorrow?
"I don't think there's a difference for me," he said. "When I go out there, you got out there with all you have. I just want to do whatever it takes for this team to win, to go out and tell my children years from now, 'Hey, my last game I went out there and I played with everything I had and we won.' "
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial