By Sylvia Quintanilla, For NM State Athletic Media Relations
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Some college athletes find it hard to balance life with a load of class work, their commitment to their sport and a social life, but there are some student athletes talented enough that they wouldn’t have it any other way.
New Mexico State third-string quarterback, Tanner Rust, is getting set to become only the 2nd Aggie to play both Football and Baseball at a collegiate level.
“Baseball and football are my life,” said Rust.
At El Capitan High School in Lakeside, Calif., Rust played both baseball and football, though he said he could have done three. He played a lot of soccer, but broke his leg when he was in 8th grade.
“Football is definitely a lot harder,” Rust said on the conditioning of the two sports. “Baseball is a more mental game.”
The conflict with being dedicated to both baseball and football occurs during the break between semesters. Most football coaches want their players at spring football, just as baseball season is gearing up.
Rust said he hasn’t had a chance to talk to head football coach, DeWayne Walker, but Walker is considerate about letting Rust play baseball, something that Rust appreciates.
“We’ll work with baseball to make it happen,” said Walker.
Head baseball coach, Rocky Ward, said he has spoken to Walker about Rust, but only briefly.
“Walker plans to keep his commitment to allow Tanner to play baseball, but coach and I will get together after football is over to develop a plan for Tanner,” said Ward.
The need for a young quarterback and his history as a good high school player is what attracted Walker to recruit Rust.
“He’s a good athlete and we were fortunate to close deal to get him,” said Walker. Rust’s final decision came down to San Jose State and NM State.
At El Capitan, Rust threw 2,700 yards and 28 touchdown passes in 2008. He also rushed 385 yards and four touchdowns the same year and named the Grossmont North Player of the Year, the all-Area East Player of the Year in addition to several different honors.
“He has good potential to become a good college quarterback,” said Walker.
Walker said Rust is the type of athlete who can handle two college sports, mainly since Rust has been doing the balancing act all his whole life.
In high school, Rust played short stop and third base in baseball, but he is interested in playing third base at NM State.
“Tanner is a switch-hitting catcher and third basemen,” said Ward. “He has the potential to play a big role for us as a freshman and may be considered for a starting job as a sophomore.”
Though Rust needs development, Ward said Rust is a big time athlete who came from a good high school program. In Rust’s senior year, his team won the California Interscholastic Federation Championship, Rust scored the game winning hit in the championship game.
Tanner is the most recent dual Aggie since 2002. That year, Joey Vincent played for football and baseball.
“It was tough for Joey because the football staff wanted him in spring football and that conflicted with our playing season,” said Ward.
Ward is hopeful an agreement will be reached with Walker to allow Tanner to play a full baseball season.
“I know I am willing to allow Tanner to do some work with spring football on our light practice days,” Ward said.
Choosing between the sports in not something Rust can do.
“When asked what sport I like the most, I usually say, ‘What season it is?’” said Rust.
Competing in and putting as much effort in to both sports as he can, Rust said he dreams about the next level.
“NFL or MLB,” Rust said. “See which one works out the best for me.”