August 17, 2010 Getting to know Nate Combs

If there was a casting call for the poster child that could fit the mold that Rich Ellerson likes in his players, Nate Combs could audition for the lead role.

One of the attributes that Ellerson and his staff look for in their prospects is the ability to adapt. As such, it is not surprising to see a player come in as a quarterback and end up playing free safety.

For the 6-foot-2, 220 pound Combs, he had to adapt right out of the gate and it has paid off for the sophomore, who was recruited as a strong safety and made his first switch during his freshman year (2009).

"They put down at defensive end and that kind of caught me off guard, so I had to adapt to that," Combs shares before Tuesday's practice. "Then I got on some special teams and I loved that, but I got hurt (hamstring)." And so for the first time in his football career, Combs found himself playing in a three point stance with his hand in the dirt.

During spring practice, Combs received reps at both the Mike and Bandit spots and played the Mike during the spring game as Stephen Anderson was recovering from his surgery.

However, with Army's leading tackler and Bandit backer, Andrew Rodriguez out for an undetermined amount of time, Combs, is being called upon again to adapt and adjust.

"At first it was kind of hard for me because the Bandit is suppose to be like the same position, but the Whip drops back more in the pass coverage," declares backer who reins from Indiana.

"The main thing that I had to adapt at was dropping back in pass and making sure I had my eyes back on the quarterback and keeping my feet calm," shares the laughing Combs. "That only took a couple of days and I started getting it."

If there was one quality that the coaching staff embraced about A-Rod's talents, it was that he is a coach on the field and now that role falls in the lap of Mr. Combs. "The guys starting listening to my calls more and accepting it, because the Whip makes all the calls for the line," says a more confident Combs.

"As soon as we get out of the huddle, I'm looking at the formation … depending what defense we are running, I make the strength call; left or right. And depending if we have a stunt on too, I have to make that call or if there's a motion, I have to adapt real quick and make that call as well."

"I feel that I've gotten that down pretty well right now -- especially after the last scrimmage. Everybody is echoing the calls; I would make the call and Marcus (Hilton) echoing down the line, then Jarrett Mackey would echo it back to make sure that everyone is on the same page."

"I know that A-Rod has been on the sidelines, but he has help me out a lot … making sure I'm doing the right things."

Combs knows that he is part of unit that has the potential to do some very special things on the field this season. Without getting too far ahead of themselves, the defense maintains a humble swagger, knowing that potential and reality can either be the same or different. "We're expecting the best," notes Combs. "When we got scored on during the scrimmage on Saturday, we were angry. When we go out every time on the field, we want to be three and out and get the offense on the field. When we are in the huddle we are brothering up and we are expecting to make big things to happen this year."

"Right now our focus is Eastern Michigan. We starting watching film for awhile on them and we said this is the last time we look at the season as a whole and going forward, it's about Eastern Michigan."


If we open up your CD player, what would we find? I like to go to sleep to Dave Matthews, so a lot of times you would find that. But before games I like to listen to the Techno or the Rap

Do you have any nicknames? What are they? Everybody on the team calls me peanut or nut. One of my friends from the prep school … well we all were given nicknames, and when I had my BCG's on and shaved head, they said I look like the Planters' guy.

If there is one team minus Navy that you are looking forward to playing, who would it be? Of course Eastern Michigan is the next biggest game, but if I had to pick one I would say Notre Dame. I grew up in Indiana and I always watched Notre Dame, plus my mom is a Notre Dame, but Army fan now.

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