Q&A with San Diego State’s Nick Bawden: ‘The leading man’4 min read
There aren’t many quarterbacks who give up the ball and decide to become lead fullbacks. Former San Diego State Aztecs fullback Nick Bawden did that and more. After starting two games for the Aztecs at quarterback in 2014, he made a successful transition to the position. Bawden was the lead blocker for two 2,000-yard running backs in his career. He gives a lot of the credit to current San Diego State offensive coordinator Jeff Horton. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with Bawden during the week of 2018 Senior Bowl practices this past January.
Corey: Wanted to ask you a little bit about working with Jeff Horton as the offensive coordinator (San Diego State). He is a guy I had some familiarity with and we worked together for awhile (St. Louis Rams). He had a lot of good things to say about you. Not only on your approach, but just how smart you were. Talk a little bit about your ability to grasp a number of different pro-style concepts.
Bawden: Starting with my intellect for football. I just love the game. Student of the game. Trying to learn as much as I can from as many people…reaching out to people on Instagram, stuff like that. I learned so much from Coach Horton. That’s pretty cool that you guys go way back, cause he’s been so influential in my life. I can’t thank him enough for all that he’s done. He’s really taken the time to help me learn this game the way I have.
Corey: You’re being asked to block on a lot of counters and do some of the things that an NFL fullback would be asked to do. It’s one thing to do it and get to the assignment, but then there is another to do it and finish with some ‘Nasty’. I like ‘Nasty’, and you’ve got a lot of that in you. Talk about ‘Nasty’ and why that’s important for you…to send a message when you connect on people.
Bawden: Yeah, I mean there’s not many of us left. A fullback has got to be the most physical guy on the field at all times. Whether that’s in special teams or running iso (lead isolations), running counters, like you said. That’s just my mentality. I want to impact the game to where linebackers are thinking about me and not where the ball is.
Corey: You’ve blocked for two 2,000-yard rushers (Donnell Pumphrey, Rashaad Penny) among others. You’ve also blocked for Juwan (Washington) and did he come close to a thousand this year?
Bawden: He was close yeah but not quite (759 yards, 6 yards per carry, 7 TDs).
Corey: The year before (2016), the 2,000 and 1,000-yard double (Pumphrey and Penny).
Corey: What does that mean to you?
Bawden: It’s been incredible. Like I said, there’s nine other guys on the field so it wasn’t just me. We’ve had some really good O-linemen and some really good tight ends. But I’ve been put in a really good position and that’s all thanks to Coach Horton.
Corey: What’s the one thing you want NFL scouts to know that you’re going to bring to the next level that they may not know as much about right now?
Bawden: Just my versatility. I can line up in the I-formation and run Iso (fullback lead isolations) all day, but I can run down and cover kicks, cover punts, be on kickoff return, be on punt return. Be on all of them. I want to be a core special teams guy and be able to contribute any way I can.
Corey: No doubt. Thanks a lot for your time.
Corey: One more question. Who was the toughest opponent you went against in school?
Bawden: Individual player?
Corey: Yeah, individual player.
Bawden: I’d say Harrison Phillips, the D-tackle from Stanford. He’s actually out here this week (Senior Bowl). We’re training together down in San Diego.
Corey: Y’all beat them this year.
Bawden: We did. We did. He had like ten tackles against us at nose though (11 tackles, ½ QB sack, ½ tackle for loss), so that was pretty crazy.
Corey: Yeah, I actually announced one of your games this year.
Bawden: Oh really. Which one?
Corey: Northern Illinois (CBS Sports Network).
Bawden: Okay. That was a dogfight.
Corey: Enjoyed watching you.