Brady Nassar and James Rothstein were teammates on the Amador Valley High varsity football team.
Actually, the two were “big” teammates for the Dons with Nassar checking in at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, and Rothstein at 6-6 and 240.
That the two are heading off to play Division I college football is of no surprise to anyone around Amador football.
Where they are going to play are as different as to how they got there. And both got subjected to the questionable nature of college football.
Nassar, who rode the real world rollercoaster that is collegiate athletics before landing at San Diego State.
Rothstein flirted with possibly of attending San Diego State before losing a scholar spot, so he decided to take his game and his life to West Point to attend the United States Military Academy.
Nassar has been a known entity since he stepped foot on the Amador campus as a freshman and his career has not disappointed.
“He made the decision to be a college football player from the time he got here,” said Amador coach Danny Jones. “He turned out to be probably the best leader I have ever coached – maturity, leadership – he just kept adding to all aspects of his ability.”
And by his sophomore year the dream began to become a reality when he committed to the University of Washington.
Then it began to change.
When the coach at Washington was fired, away went the scholarship offer. No problem as Nassar then was offered by the University of Colorado, a school where his brother was already a student.
Recently, Colorado fired its coach, bringing in Deion Sanders as the Buffaloes new head man. As it has been reported, Sanders basically told everyone associated with the Colorado program to hit the transfer portal as he was bringing his “luggage” with him.
Sanders is shamelessly self-adulating, and to say he handled the transition in Colorado poorly would not begin to give it just due.
“I have really seen the whole business side of college sports – the dirty tactics, everything,” said Nassar. “After (Sanders) was hired, it went three days, and I still hadn’t heard from anyone at the school. I got hold of the lone coach that hadn’t been fired and he told me they were not going to honor my scholarship."
But as much as the entire process stunk, Nassar kept everything in the proper perspective, handling the mess in a manner well beyond his years.
“It was a lot to deal with, but it was a good lesson learned,” said Nassar. “I just landed on my feet. I just realized I was living the dream. There are a lot of (high school) players would love to have my opportunities.”
The whole mess brought him to San Diego State, a school that had always figured into the equation.
“Then when I visited San Diego State and saw everything they had to offer, it was a no-brainer for me,” said Nassar.
It sounds like the Aztecs are extremely happy to have Nassar.
“They want me to make an impact right away,” explained Nassar of the Aztecs. “They want me to come in and work in right away. Hell yes I want to play next year.”
Jones sees that happening.
“I think he can play next year,” said Jones. “He is already developed. I can see him playing special teams and then getting at least 10-12 snaps a game on the defensive line as a true freshman.”
Looking forward – and it’s easy to do so – is Nassar looking at a professional career when his college days are done?
“Of course – it would be a dream to play in the NFL,” said Nassar. “When I was a freshman, I wanted to play in college but thought how am I going to do that? Well, now I am going to do that. If I don’t make it (to the NFL), then I will take what I learned in college and go into commercial real estate.”
But it is also hard to doubt Nassar has a shot at making the pros with his inner resolve.
“Everything I have promised myself, I have achieved,” said Nassar. “I just have to put in the work and make it happen.”
Rothstein took more time to develop, but Jones saw the potential when Rothstein was just a sophomore.
“He came to me when he was a sophomore and said he wanted to play quarterback,” said Jones. “I told him if you move to the line, you might be able to do something in college.”
Rothstein bought right in.
“He has worked his (butt) off,” said Jones. “He has been great in the weight room and has done what he’s needed to do.”
As for how he came to West Point - “San Diego State was my No. 1 choice, but after they took the scholarship offer back, I took a visit to West Point. I saw how going to the academy would set me up for life and it piqued my interest,” said Rothstein. “You get there and see that all the people are such high quality guys. They are there not for NIL stuff but to go to West Point.”
For those unfamiliar with attending an Academy, there are extra commitments. At Army, you spend four years at West Point, then have a five-year commitment to the Army, then a 2-3 year reserve commitment.
“He is making a very mature decision,” said Jones of Rothstein. “He knows what he is committing to, playing where he wants to be. It is an awesome deal.”
Rothstein will spend his first year in a prep school located on the West Point campus. That makes for a 10-year commitment but is something Rothstein feels so natural about.
“I come from a very patriotic family,” said Rothstein. “I have been around people that have served my entire life. I always thought as a kid that it would be cool to be in special forces.”
As he learns more about the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rothstein gets a better understanding of what it means to go to school there.
“I didn’t understand the level of prestige that is West Point,” said Rothstein. “You graduate from West Point, and you are going to get hired after you are out the Army. The alumni are amazing. It is hard for a kid at my age to look nine years down the line, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t take this chance. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Only 1,110 kids get in each year. You have some of the finest young men and women.”
He is even fired up considering what a winter in New York will be like compared to a California winter.
“It’s no secret that the weather will be a lot colder,” said Rothstein. “But I have spent a lot of time in Truckee and Lake Tahoe each winter so it’s not like I haven’t been exposed to it.”
One aspect of playing football for Army is that it will remove Rothstein from the cesspool college athletics are turning into, especially on the football side.
“It’s sad. College football is turning more and more into a shady business,” said Rothstein. “The transfer portal is going to ruin college football for junior college and high school guys. That’s another great thing about going to Army – you can transfer out, but you can’t transfer in.”
There is no doubt that Nassar and Rothstein have put in the work to take their games to college. Wouldn’t the icing be in 3-4 years to have San Diego State face Army in a bowl game?
Rothstein as a tight end, with Nassar on the defensive line means the two would be crossing paths throughout the game.
Nassar answered with his competitive juices flowing.
“I don’t think James wants any part of that,” said Nassar with a laugh.
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