Athlete Profile: Jared Nepa

Colgate head football coach Dick Biddle is not an easy man to please. Biddle has a deserved reputation as one of the toughest coaches on campus. He uses compliments very sparingly. But when speaking of senior Jared Nepa, Biddle has nothing but praise for the linebacker: “Jared’s played as well as any linebacker I’ve ever coached,” he said

Those are big words when they come from a man who coached Colgate great Tem Lukabu ’04 and was himself an All-American linebacker at Duke.

Why so much love for Nepa? Let’s start with the stats. Last season, the Carbondale, PA, native led the Raiders with 105 tackles and five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He also recorded two sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered two more as he helped lead the Raiders to an 8-4 record and a share of the Patriot League crown.

But Nepa’s contributions to Colgate football go beyond the box score. He was the team’s co-captain in 2005 and one of the team’s emotional leaders throughout his three-year varsity career. Anyone who has been to a Raider game during the Nepa era can attest to his on-field exuberance – the yelping and jumping around after a big tackle, the mini pep talks to fellow defenders on the sideline or the arm-waving in an effort to excite the crowd.

Nepa, however, downplays his leadership role. “It really was never hard to lead this team,” he said. “I more guided them and kept morale up. I approach football as having fun and just tried to spread that attitude to my teammates.”

Biddle was not the only one to notice Nepa’s outstanding play in 2005. Nepa was a consensus All-American, the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and an ECAC Division I-AA All-Star. He also knows that he didn’t become a great player on his own – he has a longer list of people to thank than a Best Supporting Actress.

Nepa credits Lukabu and Ryan Disch ’03 with teaching him the nuances of being a linebacker at the collegiate level. He recognizes Biddle as someone who pushed him to be great. He also gives special props to his defensive line: “I owe half of my tackles to those big guys holding their gaps,” he said.

After talking it over with Biddle, Nepa decided not to attempt to go pro in football. But he still has plenty to look forward to. A Sociology major who was interviewing athletes for his final project on sports and race before I interviewed him, Nepa is planning a career in finance and investments or sales and marketing.

Nepa is a brother of Delta Upsilon fraternity and a self-described “social guy.” He enjoys building personal relationships and singing karaoke on Thursday nights at Nichols and Beal. (Evidently, he’s as vocal off the field as he was on it.)

Sociability aside, Nepa will be remembered as one of Colgate football’s all-time best defenders – a ferocious hitter, a first-rate leader and an overall winner. In short, a player even Dick Biddle could shower with praise.