Fuhr has been a bright spot for Nevada defense
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – He has the second-most tackles for loss with 5.5 and he leads the Nevada football team in sacks with three.
If you guessed Ezra Butler, go to the back of the class. Mundrae Clifton? Wrong. Kevin Basped? No way. Erics Clark? Not hardly. Josh Mauga? You’re getting colder.
The correct answer is Nick Fuhr, and that’s not a misprint. The 6-3 240-pound Fuhr has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal defensive year for the Wolf Pack, and he enjoyed a career-best game with two sacks against Utah State in the 31-28 win last Saturday.
“Pretty good day I’d have to say,” said Fuhr, who was an inside linebacker and moved to the outside prior to the 2006 season. “All day long I was battling their two defensive tackles. It was a chess match.
“This is a great position for me. I’m a pretty physical guy and I’m doing things I like to do. Even when I was in high school, there were people who told me that I would be a defensive end at the next level. I never wanted to believe them.”
Fuhr always believed he was an inside linebacker, though. That’s what Nevada recruited him as, but his career in the middle never really got off the ground. After redshirting his first season, Fuhr suffered through a redshirt freshman season that was hampered by a couple of “stinger” injuries.
“He wasn’t quite as athletic as some of the other guys,” said Ken Wilson, the Pack’s current defensive coordinator, who was Fuhr’s position coach when he first came to Nevada. “He got a lot of neck stingers early in his career. That’s another reason why we moved him outside.
“He gets better everytime he does it (rushes the passer). Our top four defensive guys haven’t all played together yet. We haven’t had all four in one game. We’re pretty thin at a couple of spots. Nick has always been a big, strong guy.”
In the Pack’s 3-4 base defense, a lot of times linebackers will line up as defensive ends, especially on passing downs, and Fuhr’s physicalness is ideal for the position.
“I’m barely 240 pounds and I’m going against guys that are at least 280,” Fuhr said. “You try to use whatever you have to help you win (a play). I love putting my hand on the ground and going after the quarterback. I’m a physical kind of player. That’s what I do best.
“Coach Sacks and coach (Jim) House have helped me a lot. They have really helped with technique and my footwork.”
Fuhr, as chronicled earlier, isn’t blessed with outstanding size or speed. Whatever success he’s earned this year is the result of hard work.
“He’s a blue-collar tough son of a gun,” said Barry Sacks, who coaches outside linebackers. “With him you know exactly what you are going to get. He’s outlasted, outworked and outlived his competition. He’s a competitor.
“He’s been up and down with his weight. He’s a lot more flexible than he was when he first came in. He’s worked a great deal on his flexibility. He’s always been strong. For guys like him, the game has slowed down. He’s seeing things faster.”
And the success this year has helped wipe out the disappointment of his first couple of years in the program where playing time, at least from the line of scrimmage, was practically nil.
“It was rough, going from high school where you’re a superstar to not seeing the field much,” he said. “When your hard work isn’t paying off in playing time, you get disappointed.
“My dad said to keep working and that hard work will pay off. A few times I got real frustrated with my situation. That (leaving) never crossed my mind.”
And with the problems that Nevada’s defense has faced this season, it’s a good thing he decided to stick around.
Notes: It’s Military Appreciaton Day on Saturday when Nevada hosts Idaho at 1:05 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $8 at the Legacy Hall box office. Military personnel can purchase up to four tickets at that price, but it must be done by Friday … Safety/cornerback Jon Amaya won’t play this weekend, but is expected back for the New Mexico State game.
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
THE FUHR FILE
Year in school: Junior
High School: Robert Service HS, Anchorage, Alaska