Position series feature: TE Nate Nord

University of Louisville senior Nate Nord has never played an entire season because of injuries. He's projected as the starting tight end and is hoping to make it through this season. Cardinal Authority takes a closer look at Nord.

Nate Nord walked into the office of Louisville head football coach Charlie Strong a few weeks after last season and was ready to quit.

The senior tight end has been hampered by shoulder and knee injuries his entire career with the Cardinals and he was battered and felt beaten.

"He said, ‘Coach I have been beat up,' and it was one injury after another," Strong recalled. "He said, ‘I can't do this anymore."

But Strong wasn't letting him just leave the team without a fight.

"I said, ‘Whoa, Nord you are not quitting," Strong said, noting he called his parents and met with the trainer on a plan of action to get him fully healed.

Nord, whose father Gary is the former offensive coordinator at U of L and is now an assistant coach at Purdue, stuck with it. He spent more time in the training room but had a huge spring and is projected as the starting tight end heading into the season.

"I was in an injured state of mind," Nord said of his meeting with Strong. "It was just a little phase I was in and I was just so frustrated with all of the injuries and so down on myself. But (Strong) really instilled a lot of confidence in me.

"I wasn't sure I could do it anymore but I ended up making a great decision. That would have been the worst decision I could have made in my life to stop playing."

Nord, who suffered a minor foot injury last weekend was dressed in practice gear on Thursday, said he's now primed for a stellar senior season.

"I ended up having a great offseason, made it through mat drills and spring and into the summer, and now I am ready to go for a big season," he said. "I feel like, finally I have gotten a break and I feel healthy.

"I can't wait to get out there feeling good."

Nord's roommate and close friend, backup quarterback Will Stein, said he knows all the injuries have been tough to deal with mentally.

But Stein pointed out that he thinks Nord is better now because of the adversity.

"He has battled a lot, but he's developed a lot and has become a really good player for us," Stein said. "I think because he's always battled back, it's made him a better player. I think he's going to be tremendous for us this year."

The injury bug started early for Nord.

He missed most of his junior season at West Boca Raton, Fla., High School, but was a three-star prospect and the No. 19 tight end by Scout.com in the Class of 2008.

Nord was redshirted in 2008 and didn't see any game action in 2009. He said he's never been able to get into a groove since he arrived at U of L because he's always had "something wrong with my knee or shoulders."

"A lot of things have kept me from playing," he said. "Mentally is obviously the hardest part. The body can heal up but mentally it's exhausting."

As a sophomore, Nord played in nine games and had four catches for 36 yards in 2010. He saw action in 10 games last season and had four catches for 24 yards, including a diving touchdown catch in the Belk Bowl loss to N.C. State.

Nord then turned in what tight ends coach Sherrone Moore called a "great spring" and really showed improvement in all areas of his game.

"Nate Nord came through this spring and answered for us," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "He had a really good spring. He became the player that - I always thought when I first got here he had a skill set that I said I'd recruit that guy anywhere I've been at (coaching at).

"He started playing to that skill set to what his abilities said he could be."

Now, Nord is listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds and he said mentally he's "a whole lot tougher," because of what he's been through off the field.

He's hoping to a big-time season.

"Not a lot of people can bounce back from injuries, but I have shown I can do it multiple times and it's been a challenge for me," Nord said. "It's my last year, I just have to suck it up and go no matter what.

"I think I can provide a spark when we need it. I know the offense well, I'm experienced and have some leadership."

Strong said during his meeting with Nord he told the player that he was "an important part of this program." The head coach said his senior tight end is a player that a lot of young guys can look up too.

"He's just battled and battled and has overcome so much," Strong said. "Just his resilience and how he continues to overcome so much. It just makes him a very important part of this program. And now he's finally healthy."


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