Stephane Nembot's future plans are huge. Standing at 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, the Colorado Buffaloes senior offensive lineman has more and more people joining the conversation about his potential future in the NFL. Even though that's the topic of discussion in most interviews, being a pro isn't even on Nembot's radar.
"I don't ever want to talk about the NFL. Just like I've said before, there's things I can control and there are things that I cannot control. I cannot control the NFL whatsoever, but I can control how hard I work and how much of being a leader and helping my team win."
Colorado's offensive tackle aspires to do things different by taking the road less traveled. Helping others is second nature to him and it's something he's extremely passionate about. A career in the NFL may not be the top priority, but being a humanitarian and helping those less fortunate in his native country of Cameroon is a life mission for Nembot. Some of the many things he hopes to accomplish in the future include building an orphanage and helping to feed the homeless.
Growing up in Van Nuys, California, Nembot participated in a program at Montclair Prep HS to help feed those in need twice a week. Dedicating his time and resources has become part of the 'big man's' leadership role for the Buffs. He was recently named to coach MacIntyre's leadership council, a twelve member committee of players who show qualities necessary in a captain and are allowed to give suggestions on making the team better.
Nembot believes going to a bowl game would be a fitting way to cap off his college career at CU.
"We are going to be better and go to a bowl game. What else is there to do? That's all I want for my senior year. My last year playing in front of Colorado fans and running behind Ralphie, there's a lot of excitement. We're trying to get to a bowl game at all costs."
The postseason has seemed unobtainable and non-existent for Colorado for the latter part of a decade. Being one of the last recruits leftover from Jon Embree, Nembot has watched the program start to come up from one of it's lowest points in school history. When MacIntyre was hired, it helped revitalize the spirits for Nembot and the rest of the team. Growing through many transitions over the past three years has been tough to watch.
"I've seen a lot of changes. I've seen a lot of coaching. Learning from different people, coaching is a style. People are not the same and coach differently. Coach Mac has his own way of doing things, which we love. and Embree has his own style."
The difficult struggles under Embree motivated Nembot to work harder at perfecting his technique on the field. There were times the senior contemplated quitting football for good, but became stronger and continued developing his talents.
Before coming to Colorado, Nembot's first love in sports growing up in Cameroon wasn't football as playing soccer and basketball was much more popular. He learned to be quick on his feet and good with his hands, attributes that he's carried on to the game of football. Nembot eventually outgrew both sports after hitting growth spurts. He's remained a huge fan of international soccer and follows one of his idols on a regular basis.
"We don't go for anybody else but our main native born, Samuel Eto'o. We love Samuel Eto'o. PTT every day, every day. Everywhere he goes, we go. When he was at Barcelona, Cameroon was all Barcelona fans. He switched to Milan and Chelsea and we went there. It doesn't get any better than that. Samuel Eto'o is the master."
The NFL's popularity is enormous in America, but pales in comparison to soccer outside of the states. Nembot admires the passion of diehard 'futbol' fans, especially how loyal they are in supporting their teams.
"In America, football has so many fans and it gets crazy in the stadiums. Soccer outside of America is ten times crazier. People fight over the score and don't mess around with their team."
Nembot's diverse cultural understanding extends well beyond sports. He speaks 14 different languages including French and Spanish. It's a remarkable feat considering he couldn't speak English when he came to the U.S. seven years ago. Football was foreign to Nembot and he thought soccer was also king in America. His size and stature alone gathered interest from colleges trying to recruit him. Colorado held an advantage over Pac-12 foes Washington and Washington State during Nembot's recruiting process. The deciding factor was Embree's staff calling Nembot's parents in Cameroon to discuss him becoming a Buff. It was the simple gesture of respect that set CU's coaching staff apart. Since high school, he made the transition from being a defensive end to an offensive lineman while gaining over 70 pounds of muscle to compensate for the adjustment.
Believe it or not, the Buffs continue to make improvements as an entire team. The unity and trust between the players has become stronger. The Buffs have remained confident in themselves despite being predicted to have a sub-par season. Nembot isn't worried about the negative chatter from the outside.
"We don't really worry about outside factors, because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is us in here. We know how much work we've put into this. Especially for someone like me as a senior now, I know how far along we've come. That's why I see this year as a bowl game, just because I know the improvement we've been making."
Nembot reiterated the Buffs' ultimate goal for a postseason bid.
"That's the only thing that matters right now. I'm wanting to leave on the right note. That's been the goal training through the entire summer."
Even though he won't admit it, Stephane' s looking forward to finishing the season strong and solidifying his status going into the offseason. As of right now, he's projected to be picked within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. He might even take home some hardware and become an All-Conference player along the way. No matter what the future may hold, Nembot will always give his all out on the field of life.