By Kris Norton | @CKrisNorton
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – What’s in a name?
For an ‘Adderley’, it is a long-standing tradition in both collegiate and professional football. Seventy-nine-year-old Herb Adderley earned a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction after a 12-year career with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. A 6-foot, 205-pound, ball hawk of a cornerback, Herb tallied seven return touchdowns, 48 interceptions, and a game-clinching interception for a touchdown in Super Bowl II.
Herb’s cousin, Nelson, didn’t have the career that Herb did. No All-Pro selections, no Pro Bowl appearances, no Golden Jacket. Nelson turned his time playing running back at Ohio State into a modest career in the Canadian Football League.
Nelson recognized the talent his cousin possessed and he saw the same talent in his own grandson, Nasir. According to an article on the website The Athletic, after watching his five-year-old grandson in a youth league game, Nelson predicted Nasir’s future pro football career.
At 6 feet, 206 pounds, Nasir Adderley of the University of Delaware addressed the media at the National Football League Scouting Combine on Sunday as a potential first-round draft selection. Early in Nasir’s career, Nelson’s proclamation was in jeopardy.
Adderley’s athletic achievements at Grand Valley High School, outside Philadelphia – nine interceptions, three forced fumbles, 1,075 receiving yards, 383 rushing yards, 10 offensive touchdowns, and seven kick-return touchdowns – were never the issue. His apathy in the classroom, however, became a complication that threatened his future.
“I struggled academically in my freshman and sophomore years,” said Adderley. “It’s something I’m not proud of and know I could have done better.”
Adderley explained that he did not see the importance of his education until he started to face the consequences in his junior year.
“I had a good year on the field and my dream FBS schools are coming to talk to me saying, ‘We would love to have you’, but they can’t because my academic situation,” he said. “As you can imagine, it’s frustrating getting called out of class only to know that I’m coming back without an offer.”
Adderley turned his grades around quickly. Prior to achieving a mention on the honor roll, Adderley was preparing to attend junior college. The University of Delaware was among a handful of Football Championship Subdivision teams to offer a scholarship. Once reaching the honor roll, Wake Forest and Syracuse began showing interest, but Adderley had already made up his mind.
“I went to Delaware, fell in love with it,” said Adderley. “I loved the school so much and I was bonding with the guys right away.”
Though Adderley had played free safety and strong safety in high school, Delaware envisioned him at a position he had never played before – cornerback.
Luckily for Nasir, he had someone to show him the ropes in Herb, who he had reconnected with during his freshman year.
“My grandfather, he was my only real male role model and figure in my life,” Adderley said. “Once he passed away, unfortunately, we (Herb) started to bond and connect… It’s just been great having him there for me.”
Playing outside of his natural position, Adderley was selected to the All-Colonial Athletic Association team. After Adderley’s sophomore season, a coaching change, and graduating teammates, Nasir approached his new coaching staff.
“I felt like I could do more,” Adderley said. “I actually went to them and asked if I could be moved to safety… I felt like I was suited for that job and I felt like I could help our team.”
The move to safety paid off. In his junior season, Adderley amassed 78 tackles including a team-high 42 solo, a team-high five interceptions, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Adderley declined to participate in Combine events outside medical evaluations and interviews but he does plan to workout during his Pro Day at Delaware. When asked about the possibility of wearing the same uniform his cousin donned in the 1960s, Adderley smiled.
“That would be a very cool story,” he said. “To have two Adderleys in the NFL is a blessing. It’s something I’d love to experience.”