Q&A with Nathan Vasher
Nathan Vasher is a speedy, versatile and explosive athlete who is one of the nation's top cornerbacks and punt returners. He was rated as one of the top five cornerbacks in the nation entering 2003 by The Sporting News. Vasher is also a native of Texarkana, Texas, which is located near the border between Texas and Arkansas. Vasher took time to speak to MackBrown-TexasFootball.com on the intensity of the Texas-Arkansas rivalry in his home town.
What do you know about the Texas-Arkansas rivalry? This rivalry goes back to the Southwest Conference when Texas and Arkansas used to play for national championships in really big games. It's been a long time since we've played Arkansas, and the last time we played them (in the 2000 Cotton Bowl), they took it to us and played better than we did. We want to come back and give a better showing.
Being from Texarkana, did you ever consider attending Arkansas? Arkansas was one of the first schools that recruited me, and I was definitely interested. I went there for a visit, but I really wanted to stay in Texas. It was a big decision, which school I went to, and it came down to Texas and A&M.
When Texas plays Arkansas, how divided is Texarkana in terms of loyalty? I think it's pretty much 50-50, but there are a lot of LSU Tiger fans up that way, and they're Arkansas hog-crazy. Whenever we get ready to play this game, a lot of people want to try to come down and see the game, and it's really important to them, especially for bragging rights, toward the Arkansas side of Texarkana. It'll be really fun.
Have you talked to anyone on the Arkansas team? No, not lately, I know a few of them, Jason Peters, DeCori Birmingham, Lawrence Richardson, we were all pretty much classmates coming out in the year 2000, and that was probably the last time I've spoken to those guys, when we were all getting recruited, so it will be a good coming-back party for us.
Arkansas High dresses like the Razorbacks, were you at Texas High the Longhorns? No, we were the Texas High Tigers, but our uniforms and everything about Texas High was a replica of the Longhorns. I'm really not coming too far from where I was when I was in high school, as far as The University, because of the orange and white and 'Texas' across the chest, it fires me up. I'm enjoying it.
What was the split of Arkansas fans to Texas fans? It was pretty much right down the middle. The Arkansas people really have a lot of pride in their team and in their stadium. They want to come out and get a chance to see the state rival, so there will be a big turnout before the game.
It's been said that the Arkansas fans are seeing this as a bigger rivalry than the Texas fans. Do you see that too? It's a huge rivalry. Those guys are going to try to come out and really try to put their foot in the ground and take over our stadium. That's something that hasn't been done in 20 games, and we're going to try to keep it from happening.
Are you going to try to address it with your teammates? I think we'll probably address it for a little while, but then again, we've got to go in and prepare just like any other game. With those guys coming in, it's going to be 11:00 (a.m.), it's going to be hot, so hopefully, we'll have an advantage and try to be in the best condition we can be in.
Is there a danger of playing the rivalry rather than playing this Arkansas game? Definitely, the rivalry is always bigger than any university, so you really just have to not believe all the hype going into the game and really try to stay focused on this week and getting prepared to play Arkansas.