At the beginning of August, the story of how Josh Nunes ascended to Stanford’s starting quarterback job seemed to be something out of a Hollywood movie: His father spontaneously bought him a Cardinal cap at 8 years old, he fell in love with the team and developed into a sought-after recruit who spurned schools across the country for a chance to live out his dream.
This season’s script took another twist.
In the midst of eighth-ranked Stanford’s surprising run to Friday night’s Pac-12 Conference title game against No. 17 UCLA, Nunes’ new role might appear to be an awkward and unenviable one: helping redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan succeed as his replacement. Instead, Nunes has never pouted or complained. He has quietly played as big a part as anybody in Hogan’s seamless transition.
“It’s tough. The competitor in me, you want to start,” Nunes said, speaking publicly for the first time since he lost his job at Colorado on Nov. 3. “But Kevin has done a lot of good things, and I definitely support the things he’s doing. For me, it’s just practicing like I’m going to play every week and see what happens.”
After Nunes started the first nine games, Hogan has ignited the offense in victories over Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA — all ranked teams — in his first three starts. Not only has the dual-threat quarterback grabbed the starting spot now, he appears to have cemented the job heading into next season.
“Obviously, not getting as many reps as I was before. Staying locked-in mentally is a big part of it now, taking as many mental reps as I can now in practice,” Nunes said. “Preparation remains the same every week. You have to prepare as if you’re the starter and make the most of the reps you get during the week. Really, the work hasn’t changed.”
Nunes is still not ready to concede that his days as the starter are done.
The redshirt junior has another year of eligibility left, and he hopes to do more than earn his degree in management science and engineering.
“Just being out there with the guys and stuff is really special,” Nunes said. “I really appreciated when I was out there with them, and I look forward to hopefully getting the chance again.”