Monday, April 2, 2012
Flower Mound grad overcomes adversity in NFL quest
Nick Stephens, who started at Tennessee but finished at Tarleton State, hopes to prove his worth in an upcoming combine.
Former Flower Mound High School quarterback Nick Stephens could be on the cusp of achieving a lifelong dream — to earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Stephens, who attended the University of Tennessee and then transferred to Tarleton State following an unfortunate sequence of events, has been invited to compete in the Super Regional Combine in Detroit.
“The NFL had eight regional combines all around the country,” Stephens said. “If you performed well, they would invite you to the big one in Detroit, and that's happened to me.
“Coming from a small school, that is something that could hinder me in my journey to make an NFL roster, but at the same time, I still get the opportunity, and it's just what I do with that.”
It is a great honor to be selected to try out at the Super Regional Combine, and Stephens certainly took a circuitous route to get there.
Stephens graduated from Flower Mound High School in 2006. He had transferred from Marcus to Flower Mound due to a family move after his sophomore year, however, he was rendered ineligible to play during his junior year due to eligibility issues.
But the lack of playing time in his junior year didn't stop Stephens from attending football camps and keeping his skills sharp. In his senior year, he passed for 2,604 yards and 24 TDs.
“I redshirted my freshman year at Tennessee and backed up Eric Ainge my second year,” Stephens said. “I ended up starting the later half of the season in 2008. After that year, [Head Coach Phillip] Fulmer ended up getting fired and Lane [Kiffin] came in, and then it was like one thing just led to another.
“I broke my throwing hand, missed spring ball, ended up backing up in 2009. I had a good relationship with Lane and was definitely going to be the starting quarterback that next year. Then when he left, everything went back up into the air.”
Stephens had started his career at Tennessee by throwing 106 consecutive passes without an interception, which is the best in the University of Tennessee's history.
The Flower Mound Alum said he knew he needed to be on the field to accomplish what he wanted to and did not want to risk being a back up his senior year, so he transferred to Tarleton State.
Stephens led Tarleton to a 6-5 record, passing for 3,000 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season.
Stephens said he hopes that NFL teams took notice.
“I've got a couple of personal workouts coming up in April,” Stephens said. “I've had a couple of teams call me up and express interest.”
Stephens said those teams include the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, and the Dallas Cowboys.
“The Cowboys invited me to their local pro day on April 4th,” Stephens said.
Stephens said he would consider playing a season or two in Canada or Europe to put himself into a better position to get a spot on an NFL squad if he does get invited to a camp, but hopes that's not the case, and said to achieve his goal of making a team, it will take a couple of things.
“Everybody at that level has talent, so it really comes down to who can absorb the playbook the quickest and transfer that to practice or the game,” Stephens said. “You have to be able to show coaches that you can control the huddle and the team, see the defense and so forth.
“There are a lot of things that go into playing the position, and it really comes down to just showing coaches you can do all those things,” he said.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Cross Timbers Gazette
The Cross Timbers Gazette is a locally owned and operated newspaper established in 1979, serving the southern Denton County towns of Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Double Oak, Flower Mound, Highland Village, Lantana and Robson Ranch.
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