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Wahid Nabi Making a Splash in Freshman Year on Ithaca College Football Team

Key Points

  • Wahid Nabi has thrown for 1,725 yards in the seven games he has played in this season. Through his first six games, he led the Liberty League, averaging over 260 yards per game.
  • Nabi’s longest pass was for an 80-yard pickup (and touchdown), which leads the Liberty League.
  • Nabi has been awarded the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III North Rookie of the Week on three separate occasions in 2017

When an athlete goes to college, their hope is to receive playing time, especially as a freshman. Wahid Nabi, native to Latham, NY is experiencing the thrill of being the starting quarterback for the Ithaca Bombers football team in his first year as a student athlete.

After an opening weekend loss to Alfred University, newly named Bombers head coach Dan Swanstrom benched senior Adam Fron, introducing Nabi to the starting lineup in a Week 2 matchup against Brockport.

Nabi and Coach Swanstrom are both experiencing early success in first year together

The Bombers got shut-out (31-0), but the freshman impressed the coaching staff as Nabi threw for 153 yards against one of the best defenses in Division III football. However, Ithaca got rolling in Week 3, picking up its first victory of the season against St. Lawrence University with No. 6 throwing for a career-high 357 yards.

“It was just a matter of coming here and getting better every day,” Nabi said. “Whatever came with that comes with that. If it meant playing, if it meant being a singular or a backup then I was ready for whatever they threw at me.”

Most recently the Bombers were victorious as they traveled to Utica College, improving its record to 5-3. Since Nabi took over the role of starting quarterback in Week 2, the team is 5-2.

“I think we all kind of expected it with the way we were preparing for games and building every day,” Nabi said of the team having success since he became the starting quarterback. “It’s definitely something that we were able to finally see the success of it, but it was something we saw coming.”

Prior to the Bombers victory against Utica, Nabi led the Liberty League in average passing yards per game. Throwing for a season-low 121 yards on Saturday (Oct. 28), his average dropped to 246.4 yards per game, 18 yards behind Shane Sweeney of Hobart.

Though having (on paper) his worst outing of his brief career as a Bomber, Nabi believes Coach Swanstrom has done a great job of preparing the freshman for every game this season, and that the team is “moving in the right direction.”

Because of this, Nabi fits right in with the rest of the football squad.

Nabi interacting with the other quarterbacks on the Bombers, all of which are not freshman

“I don’t really feel that much pressure,” he said. “I play with a great group of guys and they kind of alleviate a lot of that. They always go out there and tell me to play my game and they will make the plays when it’s their chance, but it’s a really nice feeling knowing that those guys have my back.”

Prior to playing football, Nabi played competitive soccer from kindergarten until fifth grade. If it wasn’t for one of his friend’s father being the coach of his local Pop Warner football team, his college athletic career may have gone a different route as he was “pretty good” at soccer.

Including the 246.4 average passing yards per game, Nabi has thrown for nine touchdowns, despite having eight interceptions. However, he has been awarded the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III North Rookie of the Week on three separate occasions in 2017.

“Stats are cool, but that’s nothing to really hang my hat on,” Nabi elaborated. “To me, it’s all about the wins and losses, and we’re going in the right direction right now, but it’s definitely not where we want to be.”

The Bombers sit second in the Liberty League Conference Standings, as division leader Union comes to Ithaca this weekend as part of Alumni Weekend. Ithaca ends its regular season a week later against Cortland in the annual Cortaca Jug event.

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