EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Earlier this week, Texas head coach Tom Herman credited UTEP assistant coach Barrick Nealy — his quarterback at Texas State when he was the offensive coordinator in 2005 — for his coaching career and the success he has had.
“Barrick made my career. I’m not ever going to deny that,” said Herman. “This was a young man that had star potential written all over him and it was the right place at the right time for both of us.”
Nealy was the Southland Conference Player of the Year in 2005, leading the Bobcats to its first-ever regular season conference championship. He held Texas State’s career records for passing yards and total yards, finishing fifth in the voting for the 2005 Walter Payton Award.
Some 15 years later, Herman has moved on to become the head coach at Texas while Nealy is just beginning his coaching career at UTEP. However, Nealy would have never thought his play at Texas State would have such an impact on his coach’s career.
“I never really heard him say I made his career. I think that was quite humbling,” said Nealy. “My phone started blowing up right away and I got all kinds of voicemails and text messages. It was really nice of him.”
Ironically enough, Nealy’s playing days began at Houston where he played under head coach Dana Dimel, who of course is now his boss. Nealy suffered a torn ACL his freshman year in a game against Texas, which eventually led his to transferring to Texas State. After a brief professional career, Nealy started his coaching career at the high school ranks before being hired by Dimel at UTEP in 2018.
“I was really happy when Coach Dimel hired him, first off the field a couple years ago, and then to promote him to an on the field coach,” said Herman. “It was a dream come true, I’m sure for him, but for everyone who loves him. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
Nealy is in his first year coaching the running backs at UTEP. It is a position group the Miners feel most confident in with Nealy leading the way.
“He’s just a great role model for these guys, but they’re also learning he has a pretty good knowledge of football, too,” said Dimel. “He’s been around the game at some high levels for a long time.”
Herman is considered a players’ coach. He genuinely wants to see them succeed and is well-respected by the players he coaches. It is a coaching style that has rubbed off on Nealy.
“For a long time, I’ve always heard coaches say, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your coach.’ I think Tom is really the first coach that did it backwards. He made sure I knew I was his friend first,” said Nealy. “I’ve really taken that approach with my running backs right now. I just let them know, yes, I’m their coach but I’m their friend first — especially with everything going on outside of football. I think that’s important.”
Herman and the Texas Longhorns will host Nealy and the UTEP Miners on Saturday at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. MT.