For Nick DeLuca, it's back to the grind on the coaching end of Bison football
Former star linebacker working with coaches, strength and conditioning staff
FARGO — A familiar face returned to the North Dakota State football practice field this week. Only this time, Nick DeLuca is helping prepare Bison players to wreak havoc on an offense much like he did as a player.
The former linebacker will have a dual role of helping with the strength and conditioning staff in the weight room and assisting Bison coaches on the field. It's his first foray into football since his last pro season with the XFL in 2020.
DeLuca played two years in the NFL with three different teams: Tennessee, Jacksonville and Miami.
"You have to cut your losses at some point and be able to realize it's time to move forward, and I'm excited to be here and continue being back in football," DeLuca said. "It's really a passion of mine."
DeLuca will help with the Bison linebackers and special teams, two areas he excelled at when he was a player. Not only was he a bruising tackler at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, he often was one of the first players to reach a returner on kickoff coverage teams, a testament to his speed.
The internship, he said, is a chance for him to see if he wants to get into the coaching side of football.
DeLuca was a consensus first-team All-American in 2017 after battling through a few injuries in his career, most notably a shoulder injury that caused him to miss most of the 2016 season.
"It's so good to have him back, a former player who had an unbelievable amount of success," said Bison head coach Matt Entz. "He's a Bison, but also knows what it was like in the NFL, so I think he can be a great tool and resource for our current team."
It's been a different perspective being on the coaching side of the game. He's getting an up-close view to the details that go into it, both with the football coaches and strength staff.
"You see how much work the coaches put in," DeLuca said. "You know what they do, but it's different when you're looking at it and seeing it. Just how collaborative they are and the kind of minds that go into everything."
The work days are long, anywhere from 6 or 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"So yeah, definitely back to that grind," DeLuca said.