Baylor Bears

Euless Trinity graduate finding his place on Baylor defensive line

Brian Nance’s move from linebacker to defensive end has allowed him to take advantage of his athleticism.
Brian Nance’s move from linebacker to defensive end has allowed him to take advantage of his athleticism. AP

Few sophomores in college football can claim more life experience than Baylor’s Brian Nance.

Nance, a standout linebacker at Euless Trinity after moving to Texas from New York at age 14, was part of the Bears’ 2012 signing class but was denied by Baylor admissions. After a year at Hargrave Military Academy, he was accepted into Baylor, where he sat out 2013 for a redshirt season.

“It’s been a blessing, coming from everything I went through, to end up here at Baylor and be a part of this,” said Nance, who has played in all of Baylor’s 22 games since the start of the 2014 season.

Sitting out for two seasons allowed Nance to recover completely from a torn ACL injury he suffered while at Trinity. Now, in his fourth season removed from high school, Nance still has two years of eligibility left and great potential.

“I feel like I have a lot more room to improve my game,” Nance said. “I’m trying to work hard and take advantage of my size and my athleticism.”

Nance has transitioned from linebacker to defensive line, a move that allows him to display his athletic ability but also play a much more physical style than he displayed in high school.

402.0 Yards allowed per game by Baylor’s defense.

“I liked playing linebacker, but pass rushing is fun too,” said Nance, who is 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. “I like being physical, showing I can play in the trenches. Not everyone can play there. I love being involved in every play. I feel like I know the whole defense. And since I was a linebacker, I feel like I can see the plays develop a lot better now.”

Nance has seven tackles, including two sacks. He also has a pass breakup, a pass defended, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.

“It feels good to be out there on the field, flying around and trying to make plays,” Nance said. “A lot of people asked me when I would get to play and questioned if I could play as a defensive lineman. It feels good to be doing it. It’s about anything I can do to help the team.”

Baylor (8-1, 5-1) won eight straight before losing at home to Oklahoma on Saturday. Now the Bears will go against an Oklahoma State team that is No. 7 in the nation in scoring offense with 43.6 points a game and No. 18 in the country in total offense with nearly 500 yards a game.

We know what we have to go up to Stillwater and do. ... We have to play consistently and fly to the ball sideline to sideline and wrap up on our tackles.

Baylor DE Brian Nance

Nance and his teammates shouldn’t be fazed by Oklahoma State’s spread attack and tempo offense. They face the nation’s top offense every practice.

“Our offense helps us prepare for tempos and all of the spread looks that we see,” Nance said. “Our O-line is one of the best in the country, so all of that really helps get us prepared to play really good offenses.”

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