Nord's leadership, toughness key for Cards

University of Louisville tight end Nate Nord has overcome multiple injuries during his career with the Cardinals. Cardinal Authority recently visited with the senior.

During his career at the University of Louisville, senior tight end Nate Nord has experienced the highs and lows of the Cardinal football program. A product of West Boca Raton (Fla.) High School, Nord committed to U of L just a few months removed from the Cardinals victory in the 2006 Orange Bowl.

"I was pretty excited about it," Nord said of school's win in the Orange Bowl and top ten national ranking. "It wasn't the only reason that I chose to commit here, but it didn't hurt that this was a successful program."

The son of former Cardinal tight end and assistant coach Gary Nord, the highly-rated high school product, who spent the first few years of his childhood in Louisville, fulfilled an individual goal by wearing the Red and Black. However, by the time he arrived for his freshman year, U of L, under the direction of new coach Steve Kragthorpe, had lost some of its spark and was coming off its first non-bowl season in a decade.

"They struggled that following season, but I wanted to stick with my decision because I always wanted to come here," said Nord. "After I got here it was a struggle for two seasons. Something just wasn‘t right, the chemistry didn‘t seem right."

Nord, who didn't see game action during the Kragthorpe era, began to contribute during Charlie Strong's first year in 2010.

"When Coach Strong came here it was like night and day," he said. "It became a different program, with a different attitude and mindset. We actually thought we could win again, and every year it has improved consistently. It‘s exciting to leave out on top instead of how it was when I came in."

Nord came close to missing out on the experiences of helping the team set a new mark for best start to a season and playing in the school‘s second BCS bowl. After injuries limited his action during his sophomore and junior seasons, Nord, concerned whether his body to take another season of physical play, considered giving up the game prior to the 2012 season.

"That would have been the worst decision that I could have made," he said. "It was a frustrating time, because of having so many injuries in such a short period of time. I've been banged up for my whole career."

During a visit with Charlie Strong to discuss his concerns, the head coach explained that he held a valuable role and that his senior leadership is something the team needed.

"Looking back on it, it was the best decision that I could have made," he said. "Injuries are going to happen."

Nord has continued to struggle with injuries this year. Most recently, he injured his shoulder as the Cardinals were preparing to face Rutgers in the season finale.

"I've been about three-quarters [healthy] this entire year," he explained. "I'm just trying to get through it. I had a shoulder dislocation a couple days before the Rutgers game. It's been one thing or another, so I have kind of become used to it. It's nothing that I can't play through. It's just a pain tolerance thing, so I'll be fine for the game."

Nord will have the rare opportunity to play with much of his family in attendance. Having a father as an assistant coach, the chances for him to attend a game has been scarce. When the Cardinals take the field on January 2 against third-ranked Florida, both of his parents and sister, along with his girlfriend and her family, will be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome stands.

"He's been able to see three of my games during my career and two of them have been this year," he said of his father. "He'll be able to come to this game. It'll be exciting to play in front of all of them. I don't get the opportunity to do that very often."

"It's bittersweet to know that my career here is coming to an end, but going out in the Sugar Bowl is more than you could ask for. This is a huge opportunity for the university and the entire athletic program."

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