Name: Nader Abdallah
Hometown: Metairie, La.
High School: Archbishop Rummel
Position: Defensive Line
Year: Senior
Last season: Backup defensive tackle; played in all 13 games with 19 tackles, including three for loss and one sack
This season: Fifth-year senior; part of a veteran defensive front; heads into spring as backup at defensive tackle

COLUMBUS, Ohio — By now you’re probably familiar with the story of Nader Abdallah.

A native of New Orleans, his family’s home and father’s store were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The devastating destruction left his family no choice but to come live with him in Columbus for six months after the city was left in ruins. His father, Younes, and mother, Izzieh and three siblings all lived together in Columbus for six months before the family returned to Louisiana in April 2006 in an attempt to pick up the pieces and start over.

Both his parents have since moved back to the Middle East while Nader’s two brothers and sister are living in the Houston area. Abdallah also had two other brothers in his life, but one died more than two years ago in an 18-wheeler accident and the other was victim of an accidental shooting when Nader was just a little boy.

But throughout his family’s hardships and life’s ups and downs, Abdallah always had football to turn to. The traumatic experiences will forever be a humbling reminder of how fortunate he is to be playing college football at one of the elite programs in the country. He also is on course to graduate after fall quarter with a degree in family resource management.

“Football has definitely helped me through a lot of the hard times,” Abdallah said. “ Just being around the game and the guys really helps put your mind at ease for a while and just concentrate on football. I’m very grateful for the opportunity Ohio State has given me and I thank them for all the support they have given me and my family.”

Abdallah now has his mind set on his senior season with the Buckeyes and is entering spring practice with the same team-first mentality he had when he arrived as a freshman. After redshirting in 2004, he rode the bench the next two years, playing in a total of eight games. He finally worked his way into the defensive line rotation last year as one of the top backups at the tackle spot. He then received the fortunate opportunity to play in front of his hometown friends and family in the BCS national championship game in New Orleans.

Even after putting in his time and paying his dues, he says he doesn’t worry about a starting job and just wants to contribute any way he can.

“(Defensive coordinator Jim) Heacock makes us work hard everyday for the starting jobs,” Abdallah added. “He never lets any of the guys get too comfortable. The more competition we have, the more it’s going to push us to get better. By competing everyday for jobs, guys don’t get complacent because they know someone can come in and take their starting job at anytime.”

After entering last summer around 335 pounds, Abdallah lost the weight a year ago and posted a solid season. He maintained that work ethic this winter to keep the weight off and has lofty expectations for himself and the team this season.
“I’m a lot more agile and a lot more energetic,” he said. “Losing that weight has helped me tremendously, both physically and mentally. I just feel a lot more comfortable out there and so far things are going pretty good.”

~ Adam Widman,