Desmond Nisby doesn’t view it as a step down. Football is football in his mind.
It doesn’t matter if it’s playing in front of tens of thousands of fans in the Big 12 like he did at Texas Tech last season, or playing in front of a couple thousand like he will at Texas Wesleyan in the NAIA.
“I love football,” Nisby said after a practice last week at Farrington Field. “For me man, it’s like eating a bowl of cereal. You go from Frosted Flakes to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cereal is cereal. Football is football.
“I love playing. I’m blessed to be here. I’m excited. I’m thankful they opened the door for me to be here.”
In reality, Texas Wesleyan is thanking Nisby for taking a chance on a football program that’s still in its infancy. This is a program that went 1-10 in its return to the sport last season after being disbanded in 1941 because of World War II.
The Rams are hopeful to take significant strides in Year 2, though, with players such as Nisby and quarterback Donovan Isom, a transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, on the team.
Texas Wesleyan starts its season on Saturday with a 7 p.m. game against Kansas Wesleyan at Farrington Field.
“I can’t wait to play, man,” Nisby said. “I’m a bruiser, for sure, but if you give me some open space, I can put on a move or two.”
Nisby carved out a niche as a short-yardage back for the Red Raiders last season. He led the team with seven rushing touchdowns last season, and appeared poised for a solid senior season in 2018.
But that role didn’t appeal to Nisby and he opted to transfer after just one season in Lubbock. Texas Wesleyan is his fourth college in five years – Santa Rosa Junior College (2014), Diablo Valley College (redshirt in 2015, played in 2016) and Texas Tech (2017).
Nisby, a Bay Area native, had to find a lower-level college to play at because he didn’t have the luxury to transfer and sit out another year (NCAA rules state Division I players have five years to compete in up to four seasons).
Texas Wesleyan’s wide receivers coach/ recruiting coordinator Dwayne Taylor noticed Nisby expressed his desire to transfer on Twitter after last season, and reached out to him.
That’s when the courtship began and Nisby now finds himself in Fort Worth.
“Just the tradition with the program when the guys took off for war in 1941, that was really interesting,” Nisby said. “I thought it’d be a great opportunity to go in the right direction.”
Asked about his year at Texas Tech, Nisby said: “It was nice. The fans were amazing. The games were nice. It was fun, but Lubbock isn’t really Texas like that. I’m glad to be in a real Texas city, so this is going to be a way better experience.”
Nisby believes he’ll become an every down back more than just a short-yardage back with the Rams. He weighed 250 pounds with the Red Raiders, but is down to 225 pounds with the idea of showcasing more of his talent.
Nisby feels he can have games similar to what he did against Kansas last season. Nisby rushed for four touchdowns on 11 carries that day, averaging 8.5 yards a carry.
He expects to get 15 or 20 carries a game with Texas Wesleyan.
“I can’t wait to show what I can do,” Nisby said. “Hopefully we run the ball a lot. I think the run game is going to be strong this year. Hopefully we don’t have to put it in the air too many times.”
Taylor, the man who recruited Nisby, knows the type of impact he can make at the NAIA level. Taylor joined Joe Prud’homme’s staff from Trinity International University, which played in the same conference as the NAIA national champion the past two years (Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana).
“I’ve never seen a running back like Desmond Nisby in the NAIA,” Taylor said. “Not like him.”
Prud’homme believes Nisby has professional potential after this season.
“If not the NFL, the XFL. If not the XFL, the CFL,” Prud’homme said. “There’s some real potential there. He could be huge for us. He’s a horse. He runs angry. He loves contact. He can flat-out play.”
Nisby is confident in himself becoming a professional player. He knows the type of long-term impact that would have for Texas Wesleyan, a school that has limited scholarships but wants to become a respectable football program.
He is eager to leave his mark even if it’s only for one season.
“Hopefully I can open the door for people who play D-1 and may be afraid to go NAIA,” Nisby said. “They might think they won’t get a shot at the league. Hopefully I’ll be the one to open the door. You can go anywhere, you can ball, you can graduate and you can go onto the next level.
“It’s all about film. Your film is your resume. What you put out is what people see. That’s going to help you get to the league or not. Here I have a great shot at playing a lot and getting the ball.”