Nevada quarterback looks to be the heir apparent to Jeff Rowe for the Wolf Pack
By Darrell Moody
Nick Graziano came to Nevada with plenty of notoriety, probably more than most of the recent quarterbacks in Wolf Pack history.
Consider the following:
• He only started playing quarterback his junior year at Campolindo High in Moraga, Calif., and he finished with nearly 6,000 yards passing and 71 touchdowns in two seasons.
• He had a special senior year, throwing for 3,412 yards, fourth-best in California that year, and 37 touchdowns, which was fifth-best in the state. He earned a plethora of awards, including all-state and all-Bay Area.
Many around the Nevada football team consider the strong-armed Graziano to be the heir apparent to Jeff Rowe, who is out of eligibility after this year.
And, Graziano has the tools to run the Pack’s pistol offense, which is predicated on accuracy, mobility and the ability to read coverages and make quick decisions.
“I’m really not behind (learning the pistol) because they put it in the spring before I got here,” Graziano said. “They are bringing me along slowly. It hasn’t been that hard to learn.”
After redshirting last year, Graziano finds himself third on the depth chart behind Rowe and Travis Moore, both seniors. There’s a good chance that Graziano could move ahead of the more-experienced Moore by the end of the season.
“He will push (Travis),” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “We’ll get him involved (this year) some way. He’s coming along.”
That’s all Graziano needs to hear is the coach has that kind of confidence in him. And, knowing he would have an opportunity to start his sophomore year is what cemented his decision to come to Nevada.
“Coach Ault said there would be a good opportunity for me, especially with Jeff and Travis being seniors (after my redshirt year),” Graziano said. “He was straight with me. He told me that I would reap what I sewed, and a lot would depend on how I practiced everyday.”
Graziano had a minor setback in the spring, which cost him a chance to pass up Moore on the depth chart.
Moore was sidelined by a torn tendon suffered while lifting weights. Graziano, however, tore ligaments in his right thumb when it got jammed into the ground. The injury limited him to running the ball or handing off during the spring. He also suffered a slightly dislocated shoulder during the spring game.
It could have been devastating, but Graziano came out and took snaps.
“I used it as more of an opportunity to get comfortable with our running game and the different line calls,” Graziano said. “It actually put me forward in that area.”
“It was frustrating. I worked with what I could do. I still had to come out to practice everyday.”
Ault seemed more worried about the mental part of Graziano’s game than the physical part.
“He didn’t throw one pass (during the spring),” Ault said. “That didn’t help. He did come out and practice. He missed a lot in terms of feeling confident with the offense. He’ll get that chance this coming spring.”
Indeed. This spring, Graziano and current freshman Colin Kaepernick will battle for the No. 1 job, though one would think Graziano has the edge based on experience alone.
“Colin will redshirt (this year),” Ault said. “He is a great athlete with a bright future. I saw him play basketball (last winter). He’s an all-around athlete.”
Graziano, like most of his Nevada teammates, spent the summer working hard. He participated in 7-on-7 drills twice a week working with the Pack’s talented group of wide receivers, but said that he hasn’t developed any special chemistry with any of the receivers like Rowe and Caleb Spencer have.
“I got a chance to get caught up with the passing game, and just the overall speed of the game. I went through that adjustment after the first week of fall camp last year. You have to adjust quickly.
“It takes time to develop that. It takes time to know the receiver is going to be in the right place, and not run the wrong route and have an interception happen. It takes time.”
Notes: Wide receiver Jack Darlington, who suffered a concussion last week and missed Saturday’s scrimmage, watched practice on Wednesday. He said he had some double vision, and yesterday was the first day he was allowed on the practice field. He’s unsure of when he’ll practice again …Ault said that he’s been pleased with the defense after two weeks of camp. He again pointed out how pleased he is with JC transfer Justin Jackson, a safety from the Sacramento area.
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