BAKERSFIELD, Ca. — Kickers don’t always get the love or spotlight they deserve. And for local talent, Nathan De Jager, he didn't quite receive that love the first time he went to college. So, he returned home to Bakersfield and made the most of an opportunity that would eventually lead him back to where it all started for him. This time, just out of state.
De Jager first kicked his way to success at Bakersfield Christian High School. He'd graduate in 2016 and land an opportunity at Fresno State.
According to him, the Bulldogs didn't make room for him on the roster at the start of the season, so he elected to come back home to join the Bakersfield College to begin a new college journey.
In his second year with the Renegades, De Jager made his impact felt.
“I had to ball out this year,” De Jager said.
He'd finish the 2018 season as the leading scorer on the team, going for 16 for 19 on field goal attempts and only missed one extra point in his second season at BC.
“During season it wasn’t like a for sure thing, nobody was talking to me before so I wasn’t sure if I was even going to get looks," De Jager said.
As many JuCo products attempt to do, he played his way into a new opportunity.
“I’m pretty excited to get out there and make a name for myself at a D-1 level and just ready to get to the next chapter," De Jager said.
That next chapter will take place with a new four-year school in the Mountain West Conference, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Nathan will now battle for a starting role as a member of UNLV's football team in the spring of 2019.
“I'm glad with everything that I did going to Fresno State and coming back to here, just things didn’t work out at Fresno. It was God’s plan for me to come back home and play for Bakersfield College.”
"My dad and Coach Alvarez and Coach Chudy really pushing me to be great and to really focus on this year because without this year I don’t know that I would have been recruited if I did as good as I did and I knew it came down to this year," De Jager said.
The first challenge will be fighting for the starting job and scholarship, but the next one is slight down the road for the local kid who had to return home to rediscover his success.
"Get looks from pro ball, I don’t know, make something out of it, i guess, and hopefully I can make a job out of it," De Jager said with a slight smile.