Nye Dominant as Country-Leading Tight End for Muhlenberg Football
Finding a sport you love at a young age and constantly improving your game all the way to the collegiate level isn’t something you see every day, especially when changing positions along the way. James Nye, a tight end for the Muhlenberg College Mules, has certainly made his mark on the program after having a very strong season this year.
The Clinton resident and Morgan School graduate has felt a connection to the gridiron since his young elementary school days when he was immediately challenged to play with older kids.
“I have been playing since third grade, so 12 or 13 years. My dad played football, so I figured I would try,” says James. “I remember the fourth-grade team needed more people to expand and let third graders play. Before that, they did not let third graders play, so I saw that as an opportunity.”
Throughout this fall on the field, James has reached several season highs, including in a game on Sept. 24 against the McDaniel Green Terrors. In this contest, James recorded 115 receiving yards, including his longest reception of 75 yards, and scored two touchdowns to help lead the Mules to a 41-7 victory. On Oct. 14 against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, James totaled 106 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Muhlenberg Head coach Nathan Milne has enjoyed coaching James and has seen him grow tremendously over the past few years.
“He plays tight end for us; if you watch the National Football League (NFL), Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, those are the kind of guys that he looks like on the football field; JP does a really good job for us,” says Milne. “When we recruited him from high school, he was a quarterback, and then we shuffled him around between wide receiver and tight end. He has done a really good job of getting bigger and adding weight to play that position. He has been outstanding and has worked really hard for us and had a breakout season this year. We expect him to have a really monster season next year. He was playing for six weeks; he was leading the country at the tight end position in touchdowns.”
During his high school playing days, James spent his time as a leader on the field playing quarterback for the Morgan Huskies. That transition to tight end alone, as well as adjusting from playing high school to playing college football, proved to come with some challenges.
“It was overwhelming, even though it is Division III. It is pretty tough; we are going to meetings at 6 a.m. During training camp, we are going to three meetings a day, two practices, one of them is a walk-through practice,” says James. “It was much more rigorous compared to high school.”
Not only is he a star on the football field, but James is also a member of the Mules men’s indoor and outdoor track and field team, where he participates in the sprinting events to help him stay in shape.
In his freshman year, James was able to travel back home to visit his family during a bye week. During that time, he watched his younger brothers play for the Huskies, which gave him a new view of high school football.
“I watched my brothers play because they were still playing for Morgan at the time. I just remember thinking ‘I swear high school football seemed like everyone was so much bigger and faster,’” says James. “But now that I am watching all of these Division III guys play and I am so used to watching college football, it looks like youth again. That perspective changed everything.”
James, unfortunately, missed the last four games of this season due to an injury. This wasn’t the first time he’s had to overcome injuries throughout his playing career, but he has always found a way to bounce back stronger when that adversity hits.
“I was a starter, and then I got concussed, and then I started blossoming on the field and seeing good minutes and good reps. I got this weird injury, partially tearing my PCL,” says James. “I had a pinched nerve during my freshman year, and all throughout COVID, I used that pinched nerve as an incentive to get stronger and build myself for college football.”
During COVID-19, James bought a bench set from Torrington, where he grew his body for about a year and a half. He believes this paid off for him in the long run. He also knows that maintaining a positive attitude and being aware of the injury at hand is super important.
“I do a lot of research into my injury; I end up becoming my own health trainer. With the internet, there is no problem that I cannot solve; that is how I look at it,” says James. “Track and field is a beautiful sport for it too, you can go on and read about how to develop speed. I learn more about my injury, read up on some of those studies, and just try to take it one day at a time and stay patient.”
Besides the injuries, which are typically out of a player’s control, Milne applauds James’ way of switching positions with such ease.
“The only thing for him would be moving positions; that is always unique for a young man or any athlete. You start out at one position, and they move you to a different position,” says Milne. “That would be the challenge, is moving positions from high school to college, and his evolvement throughout the years.”
As he looks ahead to his last season in a Mules uniform next year, James hopes to help lead his team to a better season than they had this fall while maintaining a family atmosphere with everyone on the roster.
“We have a lot of returning players; I am looking forward to having that chemistry with all of those returning guys, having a fully healthy team,” says James. “Muhlenberg is a historically successful team; we were disappointed that we went 7-4. A lot of programs would be ecstatic to have that record, but no one around Muhlenberg is happy about that. We are out for revenge next year, and I like that.”