8-man football made Seth Nerness a D-1 talent

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“He’s just an 8-man guy.”

One of Iowa State’s latest football commitments for the 2015 class, Seth Nerness of Murray, has heard that one before.

There is a heck of a jump from 8-man ball in southwest Iowa to the Big 12, but that doesn’t mean that a 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete like Nerness isn’t capable. In fact, Nerness believes because of the versatility required to play the 8-player game, he has become the player that the is today. 

“I am a running back,” Nerness explained. “I can play fullback. I can play tight end. I split out. I am a kick returner. I’ve done punt return. I play linebacker and defensive end. I’ve covered guys down field. I’ve done it all at least once.”

That’s what 8-player football is all about. In rural areas where the lowest level of the sport thrives, some schools only have 10 plays or so available to compete. That means that everybody has to do everything, especially the studs.

“It totally diversified me,” Nerness said. “I haven’t played just one position. I’ve had to stay mobile and get faster.”

Nerness, who chose Iowa State this weekend over Kansas State, is projected to be a defensive end at the next level however, other schools have talked to him about potentially being an outside linebacker.

“Louisville and Oklahoma wanted me to go to their camps to play outside linebacker, a defensive end type, Nerness said. “I can see myself playing that position. I’m 6-foot-4, 230 and I run a 4.5.”

As a running back, Nerness ran for 866 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Defensively, he acquired 71 tackles and eight sacks. 

Nerness and his relationship with Iowa State began a little over a year ago but blossomed towards the end of last fall. Nerness attended every Cyclone home game in 2013. 

“Right after the season, Iowa State offered and when that happened, I started to lean that way,” Nerness said. “At the end of the day, I went to Iowa. They didn’t offer and I don’t hold that against them. College football is a business. I went to Kansas State and they offered me. Iowa State just felt right. I’m very comfortable with the coaches. Coach Rhoads always emphasizes family and I really like that.”

Nerness has strong ties to Iowa State too. Along with growing up only an hour and a half from Ames, his uncle, John Nerness, wrestled for the Cyclones in the 80’s. Being that Murray is a small farm town, of course Nerness has a handful of friends already enrolled at Iowa State as well. 

“It felt right,” Nerness said. “I went to their camp and just saw how their defensive ends coach interacted with everyone. I just have a lot of ties there.”

And for the 8-man stigma that will undoubtedly always be attached to Nerness? In his opinion, there is no need to talk back to his doubters. 

“I really don’t say anything,” Nerness said. “I take it in and use it as fuel to the fire. I went out and got two Division 1 offers. I think that speaks for itself.”

Chris Williams


Chris was hired as Cyclone Fanatic’s publisher in the fall of 2009. He is Iowa State football's postgame show host on the Cyclone Radio Network and can be heard daily from 4-7 on Des Moines' top-rated sports station, 1460 KXnO. Williams, a 2007 graduate of Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism, is the former publisher of the old ( He has also written for the Des Moines Register, the Ames Tribune, and is the former sports director at KMA Radio. When Williams isn’t working, you can usually find him doing something outdoors with his wife Ashley, daughter Camryn, and Golden Retriever Dierks. He enjoys golfing, boating, country music, the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Braves and is passionate about any and all motor sports so finding Williams at a local dirt track is very common.