How Former Baylor Walk-on Silas Nacita Saved His Football Career

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterMay 7, 2015

USA Today

On April 8, Bleacher Report reported that former Baylor running back Silas Nacita was ruled officially and permanently ineligible. In the piece, the once-homeless walk-on shared his desire to keep playing football even if it meant doing so at an NAIA program. Later that month, Nacita committed to Southwestern Assemblies of God University—an NAIA program in Waxahachie, Texas.

This is the story of how he saved his football career. All words are his own as told to Bleacher Report's National College Football Lead Writer, Adam Kramer.

After the Bleacher Report article hit and news of my ineligibility broke, just about every top NAIA program called me and immediately expressed interest. Places in Iowa, Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska—there had to be at least 10 programs that called.

It felt good to be wanted. I wasn't recruited to Baylor, and I was always "just a walk-on" there, but at this point, I'm way past the recruiting phase. I've gone through so much; now it's all about just playing football.

I narrowed it down to two schools: Faulkner University in Alabama and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas—right up the road.

In the NAIA, they can't do official visits and offer flights, so I really wasn't able to visit any of the schools that called other than SAGU. I didn't want to commit to a school without seeing it. I also know how important community is, so I didn't want to agree to play somewhere blind.

I visited SAGU twice. The first time, I went to their spring game, coming from Baylor. I knew anywhere I went, there would be a major drop-off in facilities, but it was shocking how small it was. I had just come from a new $280 million stadium, and they were playing at a rec field in the back.

The SAGU spring game
The SAGU spring gameImage via Silas Nacita

Even with that considered, the guys I watched were fired up. They were having fun. They were talking smack. It was football.

After the spring game, I drove up the following Thursday with the head coach, Frank Tristan, who offered to come pick me up. We talked the whole ride about what had gone on and faith. That man is not just interested in coaching; he's teaching kids about life. That was important for me. He seems like a great coach and a man of God.

When we arrived at the school, he gave me a tour of campus. My high school was bigger. They told me that I would be a big part of the team next year and that they were all very excited to have me. It's different from where I came from, but they made me feel wanted, and it was close to where I wanted to be. I was sold.

A big part of the reason I decided to transfer up the road to SAGU is because it's only 50 minutes away from Baylor. I can visit often, and that's still the plan. That's important to me. I am already planning to come back during one of the bye weeks to catch a game to support my teammates. I know that I won't be a student or athlete any longer and that my access will be limited. But there are people I care about here.

I'm finishing the semester strong with A's and B's. My last final is Saturday. That will be my last day as a Bear.

Silas Nacita doing his trademark backflip in Waco
Silas Nacita doing his trademark backflip in WacoImage via Silas Nacita

It's tough and sad. This is where I always wanted to be. This is the team I dreamed of for so long. This community, the coaching staff, my teammates and everything about the school was amazing. This was the pinnacle of everything I worked for, so of course it's going to be hard to leave.

At least I'll be leaving with a keepsake—a Big 12 championship ring. To be honest, I wasn't sure I would get one.

Silas Nacita's Big 12 Championship Ring
Silas Nacita's Big 12 Championship RingImage via Silas Nacita

It also feels better knowing that my friend, Wyatt Schrepfer, will get the same opportunity I once did. Wyatt came from Colorado School of Mines wanting to play at a bigger program. The day I found out I was off the team was the day he found out he was on it.

I essentially gave him my spot, and I couldn't be happier for him.

As one of my final farewells, we delivered pizzas to the library together.

Wyatt Schrepfer and Silas Nacita delivering pizzas
Wyatt Schrepfer and Silas Nacita delivering pizzasImage via Silas Nacita

The plan is to head back to California once finals are done, where the journey began. NAIA is a lot less rigorous, and we're not required to be out here for the summer. Most of the guys go home, so I'm going back to train and hopefully get a job.

I'll be living with my mom back in California. I'm excited because I haven't seen her in some time. I think in the past four years, we've spent maybe a month or two together total. She sacrificed so much when I was younger, and I know we really didn't get along.

But I want to give back. She's been so critical of how she raised us—raising four kids by herself. She did a wonderful job. Other than being in Waco training, there is no better option.

Image via Silas Nacita

Once I get home, I need to be training. If I were in Waco, I'd be working out two or three hours a day. I want to do the same on my own. I'm not sure what job I will pick up. It doesn't matter to me as long as I am staying in shape and one step closer to my next goal.

If I have to, I'll go work at Chipotle. I'm ready.

After I committed to SAGU, I picked up my journal for the first time in a long time.

I had been writing "2014 Baylor Playmaker" or "2015 Baylor Playmaker" as my goals since 2013, but after I found out I was ineligible, I didn't know what to write. I didn't know what to say. I let it go and stopped writing altogether. I lost it, at least temporarily.

The day after I agreed to join SAGU, I found it again. I was ready to write. I had something to say. The first thing I wrote down was...

NAIA All-American.

Glory to God.