The past two years of Nermin Delic’s life have been filled with counters and misdirections, and little of it has to do with an offensive formation.
But the former Northwest Whitfield football standout hopes the latest switch results in a fresh start and a smoother second half to his college football career.
Delic, a 2010 Northwest graduate, has transferred from the University of Kentucky to Georgia State University and is enrolled for summer semester in Atlanta after receiving a full athletic scholarship from the Panthers. He last played football as a freshman at Kentucky, participating in eight games during the Wildcats’ 2010 season.
A two-time selection to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Football Team while playing end on both sides of the ball for the Bruins, Delic was scheduled to begin football workouts Monday with Georgia State.
“I’m really looking forward to the future. I will say that,” Delic said this past weekend. “I’m a motivated individual, and when everything falls into place I’d like to see how it all ends up.”
The Bosnian refugee — he and his family relocated to America to escape the war-torn country 12 years ago — played both basketball and football for the Bruins, but the latter sport is his passion. Now a 6-foot-4-inch, 265-pound defensive tackle, he had 79 tackles, three forced fumbles, a defensive touchdown and two touchdown catches during his senior year at Northwest, when he was also selected to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Class 4A All-State Team.
He received interest from several Division I programs before ultimately signing with Kentucky, and during his freshman season with the Southeastern Conference program, he recorded five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble.
But during the offseason that followed, he endured three surgeries in three months — one to repair a torn groin, another to remove a blood clot and another to remove a rib — that he felt put his football future in question.
Last summer, he quit the team and made plans to sign to play basketball for a Georgia college. However, within weeks he decided he would rather return to the Wildcats, who welcomed him back.
“There’s really only one sport that I had the most success in, and it’s football,” Delic said Saturday.
He admitted, though, that the injuries and physical toll of the game made him question his future with it.
“I wouldn’t say the only reason, but the main reason, yes,” he said. “Some other reasons I’d say were I was going through some things in the hospital and thought, ‘Do I want to step on the field again after having a bunch of needles in me and taking shots and giving myself shots?’”
Last summer, he told The Daily Citizen he would not practice or play with the team during the 2011 season, and that he wouldn’t begin classes until January 2012. He never got a chance to return to the playing field for the Wildcats.
A story from the Lexington Herald-Leader published in April stated Delic “was forced to leave (the team) after an unspecified violation of team rules.”
Delic declined to offer specifics of why he was dismissed but vaguely hinted at being associated with a bad crowd and said, “It’s solely my fault. It was something that had went down, and I hate the way things went down. All I can do is look forward now and make the most out of my opportunity at Georgia State.”
In May, the AJC’s Georgia State blog reported that Delic signed with Georgia State after being dismissed by the Wildcats.
“I was released in mid April and started talking to some schools,” Delic told The Daily Citizen. “Most schools were putting me off to the side and talking to me but not saying they wanted me. Then I went down to Georgia State and talked to the coaches, and next thing I knew I was signed.”
Delic was intrigued by where his new football program is headed. The Panthers will be a Division I program starting this season, competing in the Colonial Athletic Association and the Football Championship Subdivision; in 2013, they will attain Football Bowl Subdivision status, the highest level of NCAA football, and join the Sun Belt Conference.
The prospect of starting fresh is also appealing to Delic, who wants to reboot his college career while helping lay the foundation for a new Peach State program.
“They’re a 3-year-old program, and it’s kind of like starting out fresh in terms of everything,” he said. “They’re not in the conference Kentucky is in. There’s no comparison as far as success of the program, but I can start fresh as far as building a foundation.”
Delic admits there were “a lot more bumps” in the road in the past two years than he anticipated, but he’s moving forward.
“I never expected I would be here when I signed a letter of intent with Kentucky in 2010. But that’s life,” he said. “I learned putting yourself in right situations matters a lot. Regardless of what you do or don’t do, if you’re there and it happens, you’re a bystander. ... Associate yourself with the right people and who you want to be like.
“I just hope to set a great example for all my teammates at Georgia State. They know I’m here because I got kicked off, but that’s not the person I am and I hope to share that with them.”
And if Delic stays true to his word and things turn around , he still has his sights set on the ultimate football goal.
“My dream for the NFL is still alive,” he said.