Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien isn't waiting around to see whether Carl Nassib wins the Lombardi Award as one of college football's top players to admit he was wrong about his former walk-on at Penn State. The senior leads the FBS in sacks (15.5) and already has been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and O'Brien, who coached Nassib at PSU from 2012-13, admits he didn't see it coming.
"You could see that he had good instincts." O'Brien told 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."
According to the report, the meeting took place in the spring of 2013, and O'Brien placed Nassib on scholarship six months later. However, the meeting fueled Nassib's motivation.
"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."
The outcome has been a dominant senior season that nobody saw coming from the 6-foot-7, 270-pound defensive end. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Nassib a very interesting draft prospect last month, and noted he's been timed at 4.71 in the 40-yard dash. He had only one sack as a junior last year, but has consistently dominated offensive tackles this year with a relentless motor.
The Lombardi Award, presented to the nation's top lineman or linebacker, has narrowed its finalists to Nassib, Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Ohio State's Joey Bosa.