High School Football

Idahoan’s journey from high school backup to college kicker catches Netflix’s eye

Rocky Mountain High grad Nino Alibegic will be part of Netflix's "Last Chance U,' which releases the third season of its junior college football documentary July 20.
Rocky Mountain High grad Nino Alibegic will be part of Netflix's "Last Chance U,' which releases the third season of its junior college football documentary July 20. Netflix PR

Get ready to watch a Treasure Valley native on the popular Netflix series “Last Chance U,” which released its third season Friday.

Rocky Mountain High grad Nino Alibegic (2016) is featured in the series, which documents life in junior college football powerhouses.

Alibegic tried to play it cool when Netflix released the trailer last month. But even he admits he got excited.

“It looked so crazy,” said Alibegic, whose journey from a backup in high school to a Division I kicker is chronicled in the series. “It looked exactly how I thought it would be. I went and watched the first two trailers and kind of compared it to this one. And I’m not trying to be biased, but I think this season is going to be a lot more open. You’ll see more emotion and more realness.”

Alibegic might not be the only player with an Idaho tie in the series. Boise state walk-on quarterback Brandon Bea was Independence Community College’s backup quarterback last season while crews filmed the series.

The trailer doesn’t feature Alibegic, but he said he expects to be peppered throughout the show. He was one of eight players interviewed in February 2017 when Netflix weighed where to take the show next. Alibegic said producers were drawn to the stories of the players at the Kansas community college, including his.

The son of Bosnian refugees, he was born in Boise and never played football until his senior year at Rocky Mountain High. The former soccer player backed up an All-Idaho kicker that fall and estimates that he attempted only one extra point, one punt and a handful of kickoffs.

He admits he didn’t take the sport seriously until after his senior season, when he started weighing college scholarship options. He shined at kicker camps and earned a partial scholarship to Arizona Western College before transferring to Independence last fall.

He’s since earned a preferred walk-on spot at Hawaii, where he said he’ll compete for a starting job right away. Hawaii ranked last in the Mountain West in 2017 in field goals made (four), attempted (nine), percentage (44.4) and longest field goal (38 yards).

Alibegic said producers filmed several one-on-one interviews with him throughout last season, as well as several interviews with him and other players, including Malik Henry, a former Florida State quarterback who transferred to Independence and is highlighted in the trailer.

“I had my fair share of interviews and getting mic’d up, which was a really cool experience,” he said. “Usually kickers and specialists — punters, long snappers, whatever it may be — they don’t really receive too much attention. But how I came about and how I started, they really liked it. They were with me quite a bit.”

“Last Chance U” is one of Netflix’s most successful original programs, receiving nominations for a Sports Emmy and a Critics’ Choice Award. The documentary followed East Mississippi Community College for the show’s first two seasons, detailing the struggles and dreams of players in junior college trying to prove they belong at the Division I level or vying to make it back.

The show switched gears this season, documenting Independence Community College, a long-struggling program trying to turn around its fortunes. The Pirates went 9-2 last fall, winning their conference and the NJCAA Midwest Classic Bowl, finishing as the No. 5-ranked Division I junior college team in the country.