What a strange, strange spring it’s been for Silas Nacita.
First, a little refresher. According to this Waco Tribune-Herald feature from last November, Nacita grew up the youngest of four kids in Bakersfield, Calif. His father passed away when he was 16 but, despite that, Nacita excelled on the field and in the classroom, and joined the football team at Columbia out of high school. However, the California-to-Columbia culture shock was too much for him, so Nacita left for Baylor after a year. Only, he couldn’t afford Baylor’s price-of-a-new-Lexus tuition, so he spent a year waiting tables, saving his money and taking classes at nearby McLennan Community College.
Nacita earned the money necessary to enroll at Baylor and joined the Bears’ football program, rushing 31 times for 191 yards and three touchdowns as a walk-on sophomore this past season.
Despite all this, Nacita was technically homeless while playing for Baylor’s back-to-back Big 12 champion team.
In February, Nacita tweeted that the NCAA had ruled him ineligible for accepting help of a well-meaning friend.
Only, the NCAA said it did not rule Nacita ineligible, and Baylor stepped in to say it would not attempt to reinstate him. “Silas Nacita will not be a part of the football program moving forward due to rules violations that impact his eligibility,” wrote Baylor AD Ian McCaw. (And, best of all, the previous paragraphs played out in a span of two hours. Welcome to 2015.)
A day later, after he had become the center of the “players’-rights/bugger-the-NCAA” movement, Nacita admitted he broke the rules and apologized.
And then, essentially, he vanished. Search “silas nacita” on our archives and you’ll find four stories, all written within 24 hours of each other, and nothing else – well, until this story. (Okay, that was a lot of refresher.)
Anyway, in a first-person essay to Bleacher Report‘s Adam Kramer, Nacita detailed his departure turned him into the Everett Golson of the NAIA. “After the Bleacher Report article hit and news of my ineligibility broke, just about every top NAIA program called me and immediately expressed interest,” he wrote. “Places in Iowa, Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska—there had to be at least 10 programs that called.” Ironically enough, Nacita left Columbia for Baylor partly because he wanted to be a part of big-time college football.
In the end, Nacita narrowed his choices to Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, Texas and Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. He chose SAGU, largely due to the fact it sits just 65 miles north of Waco. “In the NAIA, they can’t do official visits and offer flights, so I really wasn’t able to visit any of the schools that called other than SAGU. I didn’t want to commit to a school without seeing it. I also know how important community is, so I didn’t want to agree to play somewhere blind.”
For those who haven’t been to SAGU’s campus, it is very NAIA, as Nacita learned on his two visits there. “I knew anywhere I went, there would be a major drop-off in facilities, but it was shocking how small it was,” he wrote. “I had just come from a new $280 million stadium, and they were playing at a rec field in the back.”
Instead of training with his former teammates this summer, Nacita will return home to California and get a job this summer. He’ll then join his new team this summer, a destination he never could have imagined for himself just three months ago. What a strange spring, indeed.