Northwestern State media relations

Northwestern State quarterback Stephen Rivers talks about his team's match up with Mississippi State.

Stephen Rivers comes by his football talent honestly. The son of former Mississippi State player Steve Rivers and the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, Stephen has had some quality mentors. After signing with LSU out of Athens High School in Alabama, Rivers transferred to Vanderbilt for the 2014 season. Now in his third collegiate stop, Rivers will make a return trip to Mississippi State when Northwestern State takes on the Bulldogs this Saturday.

Rivers was recruited by Mississippi State out of high school as a member of the 2011 signing class. The Bulldogs made a push, but Rivers elected to sign on with Les Miles and the Tigers of LSU. After three years in Baton Rouge, Rivers elected to transfer out of the program and enrolled at Vanderbilt. 

Now a senior, Rivers is posted up in Natchitoches, Louisiana with the Demons of Northwestern State. To say the college journey has been a winding road for Rivers would be putting it mildly.

The Demons are currently 0-2 on the season. Rivers won the starting job in fall camp, but the NSU coaching staff has elected to play four quarterbacks in an effort to find the hot hand.

"Through the first two games, it hasn't really gone how I planned it go, to be honest with you," Rivers said on Wednesday. "I started the first game, but we ended up rotating quarterbacks. We're still trying to figure all of that out at the moment. 

"We had a tough loss here at home to Southeastern (Louisiana) and then we went down to UL-Lafayette and we had a tough game there as well. Now we're headed to Mississippi State. We know that is going to be a tough task as well, but we're just focusing on getting better every day. Hopefully, we can get things straightened out as we head into conference play."

The trip to Starkville, Mississippi stirs up some interesting emotions for Rivers, whose father once wore the Maroon and White and played before the cowbells of Davis Wade Stadium.

"It's going to be great to be there in that stadium," Rivers said. "This will be my fourth time at that stadium with three different teams. We need to check the record book on that one. I might have broken the record there. 

"It's going to be special going back to that stadium knowing that my dad played there when he was in college. It's unique atmosphere that they offer in Starkville with the cowbells obviously and their passion for football in that city. 

"It's definitely an awesome place to go. I have been telling all of the guys on our team that have never been there before how awesome it's going to be to play in front of that crowd and against that team."

As the Demons settle their plans for the trip to the Magnolia State, Rivers is not sure just what his role will be this weekend when his team takes the field. The personable senior did not play in last week's loss to the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette.

"We are still trying to find out who we are," Rivers said. "We're trying to replace Zach Adkins who played here for four years and broke a lot of school records. When you're trying to replace a guy like that, it takes some time to find the right guy to really get established in the offense. We're still trying to find our identity. We have had some tough tasks to start the season, but we're figuring some things out.

"My role, just like the rest of the quarterbacks, is to prepare as if I am the starter. When it's my time to go in, I am going to gladly go in and do the best I can to help the team."

While Rivers has chased his college football dreams to three different programs, he remains grateful for the privilege to call himself a student athlete. Working towards his Masters degree, Rivers has been able to accomplish many of his goals on and off the field. When it comes time to hang up his cleats, Rivers will have more than a few unique stories to tell.

"There is no doubt about it," Rivers said. "I am one of the most competitive people you'll find and you can see that in my brother (Phillip) too. We're all really competitive in our family, but at the same time I am appreciative of all of the places that I have been.

"My three years at LSU were awesome. I feel like I was real close to playing there and I got to see a lot of awesome venues. I was able to be a part of the National Championship game and the SEC Championship game.

"At Vanderbilt last year, I got to be on the Eastern side of the conference. I got to see all of the stadiums and traditions on that side of the league. 

"On the competitive side of things, it hasn't really worked out how I would have liked it to. I am still so thankful to all of the schools for all of the opportunities that they have given me. It's just so awesome that I have been able to experience all of the great things that I have."

Rivers and Northwestern State will arrive in Starkville on Friday for their match-up with the Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 3 PM. Tickets remain available. 

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