Doug Nussmeier is a quarterback almost nobody expected to set records or even be a starter for that matter.
Now that the New Orleans Saints have Heath Shuler and Danny Wuerffel on their roster, fan expectations about Nussmeier have dropped even further.
On Sunday, while crowds of autograph seekers jammed around Shuler and Wuerffel, Nussmeier chatted with a much smaller group, posing for pictures and signing posters, shirts and hats.
“I’m writing Wuerffel’s name,” Nussmeier joked.
Nussmeier may not be making his mark with the fans, but he is with the coaches.
“I didn’t know anything about him when I came here,” said quarterback coach Tom Clements. “But I saw on film a guy who was athletic and could run around and didn’t have to sit back there in the pocket. A big strong guy who could get some yards on his own when he had to. I’d much rather have a guy who can move around back there and get us out of trouble when he has to.”
Nussmeier only played in a game and a half last year, but as he points out, that gives him more NFL snaps than either Shuler or Wuerffel.
A No. 4 draft pick in 1994, Nussmeier moved up to the No. 2 spot behind Jim Everett during training camp last year. He stepped in against St. Louis on Dec. 1, after Everett suffered a concussion, and started against Atlanta the following week. Nussmeier completed 28 of 50 passes for 272 yards. He threw a 57-yard touchdown and one interception.
After playing only one year at quarterback in high school, Nussmeier, 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, went to Idaho. It was either there or a Division III or NAIA school, he said. He became the starter his freshman year and went on to set school and conference records for total offense and touchdown passes. His senior year, Nussmeier led Idaho to the Division I-AA semifinal game.
“I know some people doubted I’d ever be an NFL quarterback, but I never did,” Nussmeier said. “I feel really comfortable about my situation now.”
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