Staff Photo by Patrick Smith Northwest Whitfield High School defensive lineman Nermin Delic is a 2009 Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen selection. Photo taken July 19, 2009.
Nermin Delic doesn’t remember much about Bosnia. His family left their war-torn native country when he was 6 years old.
Had he stayed, Delic may have ended up a star in football — or what we call soccer in the United States. Instead, he has developed into a standout in American football as a tight end and defensive end for Northwest Whitfield High School.
When the Delics first came to the United States, they settled in Seattle. They moved to Whitfield County in North Georgia a year later and have been there since.
Delic was in fifth grade when he first played organized football. He played for the New Hope Titans, a local recreation team.
“We were just a wreck,” he said. “We were something like 3-9, but we had real good fun.”
From that modest beginning, he has blossomed into a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder committed to play at the University of Maryland. He said early indications have him ticketed for tight end with the Terrapins.
“Nermin has always been a big kid,” Northwest coach Mike Falleur said. “Just like most kids, he’s grown a little bit since ninth grade, and now he’s more physical. He’s done a good job to improve. He’s done all the right things to make himself a really good high school football player.”
Delic played that other brand of football in middle school for a couple of seasons, but then he developed a liking for basketball. He’s a big fan of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
After his junior year in football, Delic immersed himself in basketball season to the point he eventually lost 20 pounds. That helped him on the court but turned off some college football recruiters. He plans to play basketball again this year but intends to keep the weight he’s worked to put back on.
Delic knows football is his gateway to a scholarship. He plans to study sports medicine and wants to become a trainer.
He has relatives in Bosnia who are aware of the opportunities football has presented him, even if it’s not the football they know.
“We’ve sent them some newspaper articles, so they have an idea about the game, but they don’t know a lot about it,” Delic said. “They just know I hit people.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.