Hamsah Nasirildeen heard the conversation. He’s not sure how it started. But he knew all along, during his more than 11 months between games, that he would be back.
“That was never a part of my plans,” Nasirildeen said.
Nasirildeen hurt his knee on Nov. 30, 2019. As it turned out, surgery and rehabilitation was one that required patience.
“Being able to come back and play, just be on the grass, and practice, do drills, just move around and get to play football, it is a blessing,” Nasirildeen said.
He was back on the field Saturday night at NC State, his first game of 2020. Nasirildeen had four tackles, including a stop on the first play of the game. Nasirildeen said he felt jitters initially before settling in, and coach Mike Norvell said they limited Nasirildeen to 20-25 plays.
“He’s a competitor, and I love being around competitors and guys who are just willing to work, willing to invest in what they want to achieve and to make a positive impact,” Norvell said.
Nasirildeen had 91 tackles in 2018 and then 101 tackles last fall, leading the team in tackles both years. FSU has sorely missed him as a thumper over the middle and a safety who can limit the big plays. His return is a welcome lift as FSU finishes out the regular season against Clemson, Virginia and Duke.
He has also tried to help the younger defensive backs in their development.
“We have a young, talented room,” Nasirildeen said. “I just feel like the areas that we have to focus more as a group is just attention to detail. Everybody has to focus on that more, but I feel like that is just the area where we can take off to another level is just focusing on our detail and just being more situationally aware, running pre-snap thoughts and just adjustments and stuff through your head. Less reacting and more having it planned out how it is going to go early.”
Nasirildeen didn’t have to do this. He could have opted out and focused on his rehabilitation ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. But Nasirildeen said he felt his responsibility was to help explain the playbook to younger players and said, “I just bought into the team.”
Watching games from the sideline, Nasirildeen has been active. He’s teaching and encouraging. And not playing, too. How many more snaps he could see against Clemson, and if the play count will go up in the next few games, is an unknown. Nasirildeen is happy to be back and his return should make a difference for the defense.
The 2-6 start has been frustrating for the players and coaches. But Nasirildeen said there are still reasons to fight through the end of the season.
“Hardships and everything that come with it, nobody plans for it, but I just feel like this is the card that we were dealt and we need to man up and handle the situation the best we can and grow from it, and become better people out of it,” Nasirildeen said. “I feel like the best way to do that is just coming to work every day with a good attitude and trying to get better.”
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