Published: October 28, 2013
Nate Romine walked away Monday from the practice field, where he was again taking repetitions as Air Force's No. 1 quarterback, when he encountered a group of people outside the football offices.
A short, odd and somewhat revealing exchange then took place.
"Hello family," the freshman deadpanned.
It really was his family, too. They came in for the recent game against Notre Dame and are staying through Saturday's game against Army. Romine has been home once since leaving for basic training in June and even since they've been in town has been able to interact on extremely limited occasions.
"They're close, but so far," said Romine, the picture of California cool in controlling his excitement in getting to stop and say hello.
That's just his style, and why he's been able to fill in seamlessly over the past two games. And it's why he's doesn't seem concerned with his status on the depth chart this week as previous starter Karson Roberts moves further from the concussion that knocked him out of a game Oct. 10.
"My attitude on it is right now you're with the ones, try not to do anything to change it," Romine said. "Try and do everything you can to prevent the coaches from saying maybe we need someone else there.
"If they think Karson's the guy, support the decision and be ready to play."
Romine led the way to a near upset of San Diego State (the Falcons squandered a 14-point second-half lead), then had 76 rushing yards to lead the way in a blowout loss to Notre Dame.
"I feel like I've done some good things and some things that aren't characteristic of what coach (Blaine) Morgan is teaching us," said Romine, who became the fourth Air Force quarterback to start this season.
Roberts had started three games before Romine replaced him against the Aztecs, but the sophomore hasn't returned to the No. 1 spot despite being cleared to return a week ago.
"We always discover a little more on Tuesdays," coach Troy Calhoun said. "I do think Karson is healthy. Part of it is just crispness, just being back in the practice mode and the whole bit. We should see some good strides made tomorrow."
The only certainty in the situation is that Romine won't be outwardly jarred by any decisions.
After starting against Notre Dame, Romine compared his nerves to those he experienced in his first high school start. That can mean a lot of things, as a first start in high school can be a huge deal for most players.
But he elaborated on that statement Monday, noting that his first start came against an undermanned San Bernardino squad that Romine's Upland team defeated 63-14.
Blowout high school victory or starting in front of 44,000 vs. Notre Dame, it's all fine with Romine.
Receiver Sam Gagliano (concussion) and strong safety Dexter Walker (deep thigh bruise) both sat out practice Monday but remain possibilities to play against Army.