Under the Radar: Nate Bussey Illinois


When you think of the perfect player to fill out a team's roster, what traits should he have? Versatility, willingness to play special teams and an individual that embarrass you off the field are just a few that come to mind. Being a good football player doesn't hurt either. These qualities are what NFL teams want in their players, from number 1 to 53. I had the opportunity to speak with Nate Bussey recently and he fits all these categories and more.

Growing up in Washington DC, Nate began playing football at the age of 5.  He was an accomplished quarterback in high school, even grabbing an offer from Kent State to play the QB position. The first offer he received though, was from the University of Illinois in the 10th grade. I guess we can say that Nate is loyal as well. "One of the biggest reasons I went to Illinois was Mike Locksley". Locksley is known as a great recruiter and this seems to justify that.

Nate came into Illinois with a new position, defensive back. He made the switch because that is what the coaches wanted him to do. You will hear that a lot with Nate. As a true freshman, Nate played on special teams and made a great impact.  His love of playing special teams goes back to this, getting on the field. His sophomore season led to him being a starter in the defensive backfield.

His junior season, when 2 linebackers were injured, the coaches asked if Nate would make the switch to LB. What do you think Nate said? "Whatever you need me to do coach, I'll do it"

After two successful seasons as a linebacker with the Illini, Nate is now realizing his versatility and willingness to do whatever the coaches ask is about to pay off.

The San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears want Nate to play SS, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers are looking at him in the outside linebacker position. "Whatever opportunity comes my way, I'll be happy" said Nate after the long discussion about where he fits in on the football field. He explained his strengths on the football field as open field tackling "It would definitely be tackling in the open field, I have the skill set to make a lot of open field tackles" and pass coverage skills "I had to check a lot of receivers this year playing outside linebacker, I had to work on my man to man coverage skills" he also told me that he didn't blitz very much at Illinois, but given an opportunity, he could improve those skills as well.

Giving back to the community is also a big part of Nate's life. "being a leader in the community is very important to me" He works with the Boys & Girls Club in Illinois in his free time and also mentors children when he goes back to Washington DC. Nate also has a 2 year old daughter who he tends to 24/7.

When asked what he has learned from this experience, Nate said 'Be patient, my time will come" that is some great advice that more people need to follow.

To follow Nate Bussey throughout his Draft experience., go here.

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