Working his way amongst the best offensive lineman recruited throughout the nation year in and year out, Junior walk-on tackle Nathan Guertler has embraces the underdog mentality throughout his collegiate career. In the midst of 18 straight days without a day off from Fall Camp practice, the physically intimidating presence puts matters into proper perspective.
“Our mindset is no days off,” Guertler said Monday, following the official end of Fall Camp two-a-day sessions. “Once you start thinking days off mentally there is always hope that you will get that day off, but that will always hinder you that little much from working that much harder.”
Playing left tackle on the Trojans line with second team reps for each of the past three seasons, Guertler continues to play larger on the line, putting on 20 pounds this offseason. “Its helped out so much,” said Guertler, who now weighs 285 pounds this Fall Camp. “In terms of going on the run and staying back in pass protection, it has been amazing, and I can feel the difference,” he said.
Working his way up the ranks, the highly-respected offensive lineman continues to garner opportunities with the second-team offense. Guertler has done much for the offensive line while never losing his position to other scholarship offensive lineman. “Respect comes as is, if you are a hard worker,” he said, following three successful seasons on the Trojans offensive line. “If you don’t think you will get a day off, then you continue to work and work.”
Playing against the odds has been nothing new for this mammoth lineman, who truly plays the game for the reasons we all at home salivate over each Saturday.
“I am not playing football for a scholarship, I am playing football because I love the sport,” Guertler said, adding. “That being said, I would be stupid to say I would not like a scholarship.”
Guertler straps up the gear on the second string line, battling first team defense in numerous periods, always embracing the challenge to move the football while keeping the quarterback upright on a daily basis.
“It feels great on both sides of the ball,” Guertler said through some specific examples. “On a straight run play it is great. And on straight pass protection it feels great to watch film and see the quarterback have two yards of protection to step up into the pocket.”
This mentality and grueling effort comes from a player who arrived on campus knowing one thing, and only that method. “I came from a high school that just ran, ran, ran, I didn’t know what a kickslide was,” said Guertler, looking back on his freshman year. “I can actually punch and not just put my head into someone and ram from the snap.”
Now embarking on his fourth season on the squad, Guertler puts life on the offensive line into perspective. “If I always have friends, I will enjoy every part of my game,” he says, even through the ups and downs of being a walk-on lineman fighting for a spot on the offensive line. “You live and learn [when the defense dominates], then you watch the film and come out the next day and work on all things you have to improve.”
Guertler has certainly been a large presence on the offensive line, while only playing in four career games during the 2011 season. Winning certainly yields a bulk of the discussion this fall, yet having guys like Guertler on the squad arguably brings a breath of fresh air in this culture of college football. At the end of the day, he would say its all about “just working hard.”