Every wide receiver wants to be iconic. In order to reach that level of notoriety you typically need a signature moment.
If you’re lucky enough to be Geroy Simon or Milt Stegall, your pure talent and ability over the long haul make you a legend.
If you happen to be Rob Bagg or Andy Fantuz, your work ethic and daily determination allows you to carve out a legacy.
If you’re a top rated high school receiver from London, Ont. and decide to enroll at a university that was without a football program for the last fifteen years, well the odds aren’t good that one day you will be remembered at all, let alone as a great player.
Nate Behar makes a catch during the 2016 season (Carleton University)
That’s exactly what Nate Behar did in 2013 when he sent shock waves through the OUA by giving his hometown Western Mustangs the Heisman in favour of a football program with no identity since Vince Carter won the slam dunk contest.
So how did Nate end up at Carleton? The idea of being iconic.
“I forgot I even had a meeting with – Carleton – Coach Sumarah. We had a game that day, he met me on the field after and I’d never seen him before, I completely forgot I was supposed to have dinner with him but once we sat down he started talking about building something, create something, making a legacy. I loved that”
Behar had an immediate impact on Carleton football. Despite going 0-8 in his first season he learnd quickly that he had the tools to play.
“Physically when I came into university I was lucky because I could run fast, jump and push people around a bit but none of it mattered because I didn’t know what I was doing”.
That’s all well, but the odds remained greatly stacked against him while fighting for praise at a university which hasn’t had a player drafted to the CFL since 1999.
In his second season Behar’s vision of creating a lasting legacy as a Raven’s receiver became a reality when he was on the receiving end to one of the more memorable plays in recent USPORTS history. An end of game prayer to win the Panda Bowl against heated Carleton’s cross town rival, the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
For the next year or so you couldn’t mention Behar’s name without someone referencing that catch. That’s what Nate wanted, to be remembered for something spectacular but he is much more than just a singular catch.
I believe Behar to be the most well rounded receiver in the 2017 CFL draft. Behar explained why he feels the same when we chatted just after his Ravens were eliminated from the 2016 OUA playoffs.
“I have knowledge of the game that I really believe will set me apart. I like to think of myself as a three level player, I welcome shots over the top, intermediate passes and quick throws like they’re all one and the same”
On film I agree with his self assessment. Nate can catch anything, anywhere and has a physical presence about his game. Not just in speed and versatility but strength and brash aggression.
Add competitive nature to the list of Behar traits.
If there is one thing coaches love to talk about it’s character.
If turning down established success at Western – among a long list of other schools – in favour of a new beginning hints at character, the way Behar feels about his time at Carleton screams of it.
“People came to watch our games because they genuinely liked us just as dudes. That meant a lot because my university experience was about people first and football second while still growing our skills to be ready for the next level”.
As for which CFL team Behar grew up watching he admits, “the Riders, for some reason I always loved the colours of Saskatchewan when I was younger. I don’t even like green but when I was a kid and I saw them playing all I could think was man they look cool.”
Long after falling for the Rider ’S’, Behar has worked with the Ottawa REDBLACKS equipment staff for the last two summers. He knows the CFL, he’s been around the game and he’s ready to take the next step.
A cerebral receiver with great physical tools from a young age coming off four outstanding seasons at a school that went from basement dwellers to Yates Cup contenders. He’s much more than just that Panda Bowl catch and if your team drafts him you’ll find out why pretty quickly.