Nate Nord remembers the day he walked into coach Charlie Strong's office and tried to quit the University of Louisville football team.
"It would have been the worst mistake ever," Nord says now.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end pondered quitting because his career had been slowed by so many injuries. But after talking to Strong, Nord opted to stay in the program and he's certainly glad he made that decision.
Nord is the starting tight end and has become a major player for the Cardinals. He has seven catches for 76 yards and one touchdown in two games.
"It's a little bit of a surprise to me because I've been healthy," Nord said with a smile. "It feels great for me."
Nord, whose father Gary is the former offensive coordinator at U of L and is now an assistant coach at Purdue, caught his first career touchdown last season in the Belk Bowl against North Carolina State.
He has his second last Saturday against Missouri State in the first quarter, but dropped a wide-open pass that would have been a TD. Nord made up for it in the second quarter, catching a TD pass for the Cardinals.
"Nate is doing very well; he is improving," Strong said. "He had the drop, but he was able to come back and make a big catch for a touchdown. He has worked so hard and you do not want to see him get down on himself.
"He was able to bounce back and catch that pass. I think that gave him a lot of confidence. He is playing better, he is blocking better and he is doing everything we are asking him to do."
Nord is just happy to be contributing. His career has been hampered by shoulder and knee injuries since before he arrived at U of L.
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."
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.
But he still had nagging injuries.
"I've never seen myself as a quitter in anything," Nord said. "And it wasn't a matter of that I wanted to quit because I didn't like it anymore. It was strictly a physical thing and I didn't think my body could make it.
"I just wasn't sure my body could get through a year."
But so far Nord is at his best. He caught a career-high four passes against Missouri State and a career-high 59 yards worth of passes.
Strong said he's glad Nord stuck with the team.
"I felt like that was a young man that could help our program," Strong said. "He had already graduated, so I told him that he had another year and I wanted him to come back and be successful on the football field.
I told him ‘You have already been successful off the field with your degree. You can give a lot to this football team.' I said ‘you do not really want to quit.' He did not seem to really want to quit, so we didn't really have a discussion."
And it's all worked out for the best.