Nate Vasher is all Longhorn

Nathan Vasher is one of many former Longhorns currently playing in the NFL. The former Longhorns All-American corner and punt returner was recently in Austin for the Michael Huff charity event and took the time to speak with Burnt Orange Beat.

It's not a given when a player leaves a university and goes on to a professional career they will continue to show their love and support for their university. The University of Texas is different in that many of their former football and basketball stars that have gone on to professional success seemingly return to Austin on a yearly basis for a short amount of time in the spring and summer.

One of the former stars on the gridiron that spends plenty of time in the offseason in Austin is Chicago Bears corner Nathan Vasher.

Vasher came to Texas from Texas High in Texarkana where he was a first team all-state selection as a senior at receiver and defensive back as well as being one of the top kick returners in the state.

Vasher began his career at Texas in 2000 and had his moments as a freshman recording 27 tackles and five pass break ups in nine games, but it was his sophomore season in which he burst onto the college football scene earning first team All-Big 12 honors after a season that included 56 tackles, 18 PBU's, seven interceptions and 37 punt returns for 554 yards and a touchdown.

The quick, darting corner and special teams standout backed up his stellar sophomore campaign with a 33 tackle, 15 pass break up and four interception season that also included another punt return for a score. At season's end, a second team All-Big 12 pick awaited.

As a senior, Vasher recorded a mind boggling 26 pass break ups to go with 43 tackles and six interceptions while once again being selected to the All-Big 12 first team.

By the end of his career, the former Texas High ball hawk had ended his Longhorn career with a record tying 17 interceptions and a school record 64 pass break ups to go with 152 tackles and a school record 1,314 punt return yards.

Following his senior season, the senior was picked in the 4th round (110th selection) by the Chicago Bears and signed a four-year contract. He made an immediate impact as a rookie recording 29 tackles and five interceptions, including a 71-yard return for a score.

His rookie season was a glimpse of things to come as he earned All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl in his second year after intercepting eight passes, one returned for a touchdown, and collecting 46 tackles as well as eight passes defended.

He followed his career season with five more pick offs in 2006 and in June 25 of 2007, signed a five year contract extension through 2012.

Vasher has battled injuries the last couple of seasons, but is still a highly regarded corner in the NFL. In five seasons, Vasher has 18 interceptions and 27 passes defended to go with 146 tackles.

While "Nate", as many call him, is five years removed from his playing days at Texas, he remains very close to the program. As he always does when he returns to Austin, he looks back on his playing days with great memories.

"Playing at Texas was some of the most fun I've had in my life," said Vasher. "I mean, playing big time football, getting a great education and hanging out with a great group of guys that come back every year is special, like Michael Huff putting on this great event. It's always great to catch up with the guys."

One thing that has never changed and will never change is Vasher's love for the Longhorn football program. Even with a very busy schedule, he always makes time to watch the Longhorns play and watches the defensive backs closely.

"Oh yeah, I get in big arguments about the Texas Longhorns and what they are going to do every year. Texas is in contention every year. I enjoy watching Colt McCoy and those guys. I don't really know any of the defensive backs by name, but I know Coach Akina will have the playing physical and they will develop. As a group it seems like we are turning into DB University. There are so many guys playing in the NFL from Texas that were DB's," Vasher said, who is one of eight former Longhorn defensive backs on the NFL rosters.

One of his teammates on the Chicago Bears is former Oklahoma Sooners standout defensive tackle Tommie Harris. With the Longhorns winning three of the last four, Vasher has had plenty of time to boast about his team.

"I've got on him just about every year lately. He doesn't want to bet me anymore. I hope to keep it that way. One day a year, I don't like him very much. The Longhorns have been helping me out in the locker room. I've been bringing Longhorn t-shirts, hats and stuff for some guys to wear after bets," Vasher said.

While millions of high school football players dream of playing in the NFL, the dream is realized by a select few. Vasher is one of the few legitimately living the dream.

"Not really, I couldn't envision back then how things have turned out. I don't think you understand it until it really happens. Time flies by very fast. When I go back to my high school in Texarkana, I sit in the locker room and think about my time there and where I'm at now," said Vasher.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the close relationship he enjoys with his former high school head coach, Barry Norton. The two stay in close contact with each other and according to Vasher, the coaching and teaching relationship is still strong.

"I talk to Coach Norton at least a couple of times a month to check on his team and how they are doing. He calls me to give me constructive criticism about playing too. I still listen to him and don't want to disappoint him," Vasher said.

The 27-year old still expects to have a few more playing seasons in front of him, but says he already has an idea of what he wants to do when his playing days are over.

"I think it's something I need to put more thought into. I think I want to do something with coaching and working with kids. Not something in a formal setting, but being a mentor to guys if I can. That's something I hope I can put off for a while, but I'm real active in the Chicago community and we do a great job with our outreach program in the NFL," Vasher said.

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