The journey of Eastern Arizona OL Nate Hartung (6-3, 400) has been, to say the least, complicated. After being one of the top line prospects in the state of Pennsylvania in 2004, he decided to take his LDS mission. Fast forward nearly seven years and he's trying to find a school that will give him a chance to finish his college football career...
"My story is sorta complicated," Hartung admitted when he spoke with JCFootball.com recently. "I had a bunch of offers after my senior year, and I'm not talking about someone verbally offering me, I'm talking about FED EX'd paperwork to me saying that a school was offering me a scholarship.
"I played in the Big 33 game, between Pennsylvania and Ohio and those teams were loaded with guys who were standouts in college and a couple, like Sean Lee, are playing in the NFL, so I could play with the best players out there.
"But I'm Mormon and when schools found out I was going to go on my mission right after high school, all of my offers dried up. No one would call me back and pretty much, I was on my own."
After spending two years in New Zealand, Hartung returned home weighing somewhere around 400 pounds, but he hadn't lost any of his athleticism.
"I played basketball all my life, but I've always been a big guy," Hartung said. "I always played around 400 pounds, but I don't look like I'm that big."
After trying to find a school to sign with once he had returned and not getting any offers, Hartung decided to head west and take a chance at walking on with BYU in the hopes of earning a scholarship.
"I waited through signing day and nothing came in so, being Mormon I decided to head to BYU," Hartung noted. "I had walk-on offers from a few schools, but if I was going to pay, I thought BYU was my best choice.
"When I got out there, I was working hard and getting it done and then about the fourth of fifth week of the season, I hurt my lower back and I was basically unable to do anything other than cardio for about six months.
"They wanted me to get my weight down, so by working hard and doing some different things, I got my weight down to about 340, but I could see the writing on the wall and so I left and the first school I was able to talk with and that offered me a scholarship was Eastern Arizona and I was there as fast as I could get there."
As a redshirt freshman in 2009, Hartung played guard for the Gila Monsters, but broke his ankle very early in the season.
"For the next eight or nine games, I just gutted it out," Hartung said. "We had it looked at by the doctors and they were like 'you broke it, but you won't do any more damage if you play on it', so it was all about my pain tolerance.
"We talked to the coaches and they said, 'if you can play on it without hurting yourself any more, then we need you' so I played the rest of the season that way.
"This past season, I was healthy and I started nine of our 11 games at center and the other two I played guard," Hartung noted. "We led the country in rushing and I got NJCAA First Team All-American.
"I've been waiting on schools to show me some interest and I hope I can find a place that is looking for a guy who will give it his all and play every down."
Hartung maintains a 4.0 GPA and hopes to find a school at some point in the near future and he will have two to play two wherever he ends up.
Nate Hartung Scout Profile