Penn State's Carl Nassib calls Bill O'Brien a big key to his career

- Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib said he would not be where he is today if not for Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.

Nassib, is a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, which will be handed out Wednesday night in Houston.

Nassib, who was a walk-on five years ago, said a meeting in the spring of 2013 with then Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien was a turning point in his life.

O'Brien remembers it well.

"You could see that he had good instincts." O'Brien said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "He came in and I basically questioned, this is how smart I am, questioned how important football was to him.

"He said to me, 'football is really important to me. I'm going to play pro football.' I said to him, 'Are you kidding me? You're going to play pro football? You need to be concerned about playing at Penn State, forget about pro football.' He proved me wrong."

Nassib, who leads the nation in quarterback sacks (16) and forced fumbles (6), said that's what happened, and them some.

"That day was a little rough," Nassib said. "I went into that meeting, I had been injured the year before, and I was just excited to play football, show them what I can do.

"I went in there with a great mindset and I got kind of shot down. I never thought badly about it. I just used it as fuel to get better and prove him wrong."

Nassib did just that.

"Yeah, I did eventually," Nassib said."

Nassib, who will never forget that meeting with O'Brien, said it was an important moment in his life.

"Definitely, a lot of players would go crying to their parents, but I didn't even tell my parents, " Nassib said. "I was kind of embarrassed to tell my parents because I had never been yelled at like that in a long time.

"I have such a high respect for Bill O'Brien."

Six months after that meeting O'Brien put Nassib on scholarship.

"I was so happy that he put me on scholarship," Nassib said. "When he put me on scholarship I still hadn't played one live snap of football, so he trusted me a lot and really believed in me and I appreciate that."

And O'Brien appreciates Nassib, and really respects his work ethic on the football field and off.

Nassib is a biology major and plans to become a doctor after his playing days.

"He's a great student, a really smart kid," O'Brien said. "I'm really happy to see how dominant he's become.

"To be the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, that's a heck of an accomplishment. It's a great story. It's a remarkable story.

"I was happy to be there in the beginning and happy that he proved me wrong, shows you how smart I am."

Actually, O'Brien proved to be really smart.

That meeting he had with Nassib became a part of the foundation for everything he has become, and O'Brien did put him on scholarship before seeing him in live action.

Nassib is thankful for his days playing for O'Brien.

"Oh definitely, yeah, I wouldn't be here without him," Nassib said.

The four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award are all defensive ends and they include Myles Garrett from Texas A&M, Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Shaq Lawson from Clemson.

The award is given annually to the Nation's top college football lineman.


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