Idaho QB Enderle heads home to face No. 6 Huskers
Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle insists he won't go into Saturday's game against his home-state Nebraska Cornhuskers with an I'll-show-them attitude.
You couldn't blame him if he did, though.
Enderle is from North Platte, 225 miles west of Lincoln on Interstate 80, and he said he lived and died with the Big Red as a kid.
When no scholarship offer came from former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan five years ago, Enderle was content to don the Vandals' silver and gold.
''It's their decision, it's their scholarships to hand out,'' Enderle said Wednesday night from Moscow, Idaho. ''I got a scholarship here at Idaho. It's been a real good spot to me, and I've appreciated everything they've done.''
Even though Enderle maintains a stoic exterior, and Callahan was replaced by Bo Pelini three years ago, Idaho coach Robb Akey said he knows his fourth-year starter considers the meeting with the sixth-ranked Cornhuskers a red-letter game.
''Any time you go back home and play, there is an excitement about that and a great desire to do well,'' Akey said. ''He's fired up about this game. At the same time he's taking a very mature approach.
''I gave him a hard time (this week). I said to him, `I don't have to worry about you wigging out on this game, do I?' We both laughed.''
Good times were few during Enderle's early years at Idaho. Akey is his third head coach. The Vandals lost 21 of 24 games in 2007-08.
But last year they went 8-5 and finished fourth in the nine-team Western Athletic Conference after being picked last. They ended the season with a 43-42 Humanitarian Bowl win over Bowling Green, which Enderle produced with a touchdown pass with 4 seconds left and a 2-point conversion pass.
''We had to change our mind set,'' Enderle said. ''We showed some flashes of being a good football team my first two years but couldn't do it for 60 minutes. The times we were playing bad, we were playing really bad, so people would hang four touchdowns in a row on us and then you're kind of out of the game.''
The Vandals, whose home stadium seats 16,000, will play in one of the bastions of college football at 85,000-seat Memorial Stadium. Enderle doesn't think his team will be intimidated.
His first start was the 2007 opener at the Los Angeles Coliseum against then-No. 1 USC. He also has played at Arizona and Washington, not to mention conference games against Boise State as it was emerging as a national power.
''We've played tough opponents in the past,'' he said. ''It's going to be a fun deal to play a very tough defense and a very good offense. We respect everything they do, but we have some stuff we do well ourselves.''
Enderle was 24 of 37 for 311 yards and two touchdowns in the Vandals' 45-0 win over FCS team North Dakota last week.
Akey said no one would predict an Idaho victory this week. Enderle said the Vandals are used to being underestimated.
''Not a lot of people thought we were going to win any games last year,'' he said. ''Some people use it as a motivation. They kind of have a chip on their shoulder. Me personally, I just kind of brush it off. I don't care what fans and critics say about me because my whole life I've kind of been an underdog.''
Enderle, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, was a prototype pro-style quarterback coming out of North Platte High.
Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico State and Toledo showed some interest, but only Idaho offered a scholarship. That was only because former offensive coordinator Nate Kaczor knew of Enderle because he tried to recruit his older brother to the Division II University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he previously coached.
Callahan became interested in Enderle in December 2005 - a few weeks before signing day - only after top quarterback recruit Josh Freeman broke his pledge and signed with Kansas State.
Five years later, Enderle likely will finish his career among the top three career passers at Idaho, and he is emerging as an NFL prospect.
He doesn't care if he's called an overachiever. He says he's just doing his thing.
''Nobody thought I was going to be a college-type quarterback, and my first two years we didn't have the success the fans wanted, so the first person they look at is the quarterback,'' Enderle said. ''I just kind of try and brush that stuff off now.''