Former Miner Nick Vought goes bowling with Utah State
December 16, 2011
Hard-headed and hard-nosed.
That’s how Todd Vought describes his son, Nick, a senior special-teams specialist on the Utah State University football team and a former Park City High School football star.
"As tough to raise as you can imagine," the elder Vought said, laughing. "That has served him well with the goals he set for himself. He didn’t take no for an answer. For him, hard work is just not a problem."
Nick Vought was part of a brief era when Park City football seemed to churn out collegiate football players. As a Miner, Vought did it all. Starting safety, all-purpose tailback, punt returner and kick returner were just some of his job descriptions during his days at Dozier Field.
But the 5-foot-9 speedster said his vision of playing Division 1 football has always kept him going. Whether it was his first year of collegiate football playing at Scottsdale Community College, or his season at Santa Barbara Community College, Vought never quit.
Following his sophomore season in Santa Barbara, Vought said he sent a highlight tape to Utah State. Once the Aggies staff had watched the tape, they invited the former Park City star to walk on.
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Nick Vought wouldn’t let that opportunity pass him by.
Now, in his second year in Logan, Vought and his Aggie teammates are part of a bowl game as Utah State, which finished 7-5 this season, accepted an invited to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to face Ohio University in Boise, Idaho. The Aggies and Bobcats square off today at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.
"I’m definitely really excited about it," Vought said. "It’s going to be a great game. We match up well against Ohio and, just like every other one of our games, I’m predicting it’s going to go down to the wire."
The Aggies rebounded from a slew of disheartening losses and a 2-5 start to win five straight games and qualify for their first bowl game since 1997.
Vought, a backup safety, played all 12 games for Utah State this year on special teams and was on the field for much of the first game of the season at Auburn, the defending BCS national champion on Sept. 3.
Vought said the vision of driving up to Jordan-Hare Stadium will forever be engrained in his memory.
"I can’t even tell you how many people were out there tailgaiting," he said. "There were close to 90,000 people screaming."
In that game, the Aggies held a 38-28 lead with less than four minutes remaining, but the Tigers rallied and escaped with a 42-38 win.
Wendy Vought, Nick’s mother, said seeing her son on the field at Auburn left her speechless.
"He always lands on his feet and he does seem to pull it out in his own way," she said. "He was always a small guy, so we always thought his size would not allow him to go as far as he would have maybe wanted to, but his will and determination and his speed has allowed him to make it."
The Voughts were able to watch their son in every game this season, traveling all over the country, whether it was to Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana or New Mexico.
"He’s worked hard to achieve," Todd Vought said. "Football at the D-1 level is a full-time job. There’s not many kids that are willing to put in that time and effort and Nick certainly has."
Much like Vought’s football career, this year’s Aggies had to deal with adversity. After last-minute losses at BYU and at home against Colorado State following the loss at Auburn, Vought said things were tough.
When Utah State dropped to 2-5 in a 24-17 loss at Louisiana Tech on Oct. 22, Vought said team leaders called a players-only meeting.
"We said we have to pick it up in the fourth quarter," he said. "Ever since that speech, we’ve won. We stepped it up in the fourth quarter and played an entire game, instead of three quarters."
The Aggies rattled off five straight nail-biting victories en route to qualifying for today’s bowl game, and in the midst of it all was Vought, sprinting down field as fast as he could, hoping to make a crunching tackle.
"It’s hard knowing you can’t play on defense sometimes, but I’ve really accepted the special-team role. It’s been a lot of fun," he said. "It’s a fierce part of the game you can’t take lightly. Some games are won and lost on special teams and we take things seriously here."
Utah State head coach Gary Andersen takes things seriously, too. Vought said he gathered his players before the season started and told them he would get a tattoo of the Aggies logo if this year’s team became bowl eligible. They did, so he did.
"He’s not somebody to say something and not go through with it," Vought said, laughing. "It was definitely cool to see he got it."
Now, as Nick Vought’s football career enters its last bit of sunlight, he will walk on to the vivid blue field at Bronco Stadium in Boise this afternoon and continue not to take no for an answer one last time. He took his last final as an undergraduate last week and will graduate once fall-semester grades are posted. He has been hired at Deer Valley Resort and will begin to work at his new job soon.
"This is it," Todd Vought said. "Since Nick was 8 years old, he has played football. This is it not only for Nick, but for the whole family."
"We’re really looking to just celebrate and just enjoy it," added Wendy Vought. "It’s a bonus for us."