This is the first in a four-story series profiling Idaho Vandals quarterbacks who are competing for the starting job.
Brian Nooy left the Idaho football team two years ago because he didn't think he had a legitimate chance to play.
How times have changed.
Nooy returned to the program last year and now is the only quarterback on the Vandals' roster with significant experience.
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He is one of four quarterbacks competing this spring for the starting job for the Vandals, who open the season Sept. 1 at Southern Cal. The other contenders are juniors Chris Joseph and Luke Tracy and redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle.
Nooy, a 6-foot-2 senior from Pendleton, Ore., couldn't be happier for the opportunity.
"How many people get a second chance?" he asked.
Nooy joined the Idaho program in 2003 when Tom Cable was the coach. He redshirted that season, then served as the backup quarterback to Michael Harrington in 2004 under coach Nick Holt.
But when Holt brought in junior-college transfer Steve Wichman, who started in 2005 and 2006, Nooy wanted out. He left the team after the 2005 season.
"I didn't feel like I was going to have that good of an opportunity to play while I was here with that staff," Nooy said.
He planned to transfer to Division III Linfield College in Oregon, but failed to get into the school. He took classes at a community college to meet admission standards, but then the coach who wanted Nooy left Linfield.
"I was kind of up a creek and I didn't know what I wanted to do," Nooy said.
He knew Idaho had undergone another coaching change — from Holt to Dennis Erickson — so he called quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith and asked if he could return to the Vandals.
"Coach Erickson called me and said, ‘We'd love to have you back and a scholarship won't be a problem,' " he said.
Nooy played in six games last season, completing 12-of-24 passes for 194 yards with an interception. In 2004, as the backup to Harrington, he completed24-of-49 passes for 253 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Nooy had offseason shoulder surgery but has been cleared for spring practice, which began Friday.
"They did some work and found a chunk of bone in there," Nooy said.
Nooy said his arm is fine and now will try to impress new coach Robb Akey — his fourth head coach at Idaho.
"It's something that I've been looking forward to for four years since I came up here," Nooy said.
Akey said all four quarterbacks will be given an equal shot at becoming the starter.
"(Nooy's) got experience," Akey said. "He's the senior coming back in. We've got to find out how he handles the new system and what is his decision-making process going to be like."
Nooy said he likes what he's seen of the new offense.
"I think this offense is going to allow us to run some more, and that's one thing I did all through high school," he said. "I'm really looking forward to having that option where I can pull the ball down and run with it."
Nooy isn't sure how the competition will shake out.
"It's going to be a great battle between us four," he said. "Hopefully I can do what I do in my last year."