Who is Salsa Nacho: Former walk-on devouring the competition

Junior running back Silas Nacita (31) runs for a gain on Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Baylor beat the Demons 70-6. Skye Duncan | Lariat Photographer

By Cody Soto
Sports Writer

Junior running back Silas Nacita (31) runs for a gain on Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Baylor beat the Demons 70-6.  Skye Duncan | Lariat Photographer
Junior running back Silas Nacita (31) runs for a gain on Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Baylor beat the Demons 70-6.
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photographer

As the result of an errant autocorrect, junior running back Silas Nacita was dubbed “Salsa Nacho.” Through the popular SB Nation blog “Our Daily Bears,” the hashtag #SalsaNacho received dozens of mentions on Twitter and became a recognizable meme to Baylor fans across the country. A fan was even seen with a “Salsa Nacho” sign at Saturday’s game.

“I didn’t think of any of it at first, but it’s been blowing up social media,” Nacita said. “It’s the fans; the fans can do what they want. If they want to call me that, I’ve accepted it. There are enough people who love it for me to accept it, so I’m going with it. I think it’s a funny little deal.”

Despite the charm that Nacita projects, he took a long road to arrive at Baylor. When Nacita entered Baylor’s season opener against SMU, the former walk-on stepped foot into a collegiate football game for the first time in two years.

“I’ve waited a really long time. I remember counting the days, 738 days, since I’ve played my last college football game before SMU,” Nacita said. “I’m so blessed to be here, and getting the opportunity to be on the field in McLane Stadium is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”

As a three-time all-league and two-time all-area selection at running back, Nacita recorded more than 2,300 rushing yards and 37 total touchdowns as a two-year captain for Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield, Calif.

Nacita was also a four-year starter on the high school wrestling team, finishing as state runner-up during his senior year in the 170-pound weight class. Out of high school, he signed to play at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. his freshman year.

“Through the beginning of football season, I realized that it wasn’t the place for me, so I applied to Baylor to see if it would work out,” Nacita said. “God just started to open up doors for me here. I came out to fall camp and I was loving it.”

Nacita’s journey took a different path after he was no longer able to attend Baylor in the fall of 2013, which caused him to enroll in MCC online courses for the year.

“Things just didn’t work out, so here I was a day before school started, no longer a Baylor student, no longer a part of the Baylor football team with no where to go,” Nacita said. “It was a pretty chaotic week. I went from having everything to nothing pretty fast. I was now just an online community college student, far from an ivy league, and it was really hard.”

Throughout his year at MCC, Nacita kept in mind what his objective was for the upcoming year.

“Every day I woke up and I just wrote down my goal. My goal was to be a 2014 Baylor football playmaker,” Nacita said. “I have a book and I wrote it down every day since then. It was a hard year.”

Nacita said that sitting out last year allowed God to teach him about his reasons for playing football.

“I developed a new passion for the sport and for everything we get to do as football players,” Nacita said. “I’ve been so blessed and God has allowed me to get back here and be back on the football team.”

Nacita joined the Bears and attended spring practice as a walk-on in 2014.

“We had some backs go down in the spring, so he was getting a lot of reps with us, and he did great,” senior offensive tackle Troy Baker said. “We are very happy that we know that if it comes down to it, then we’ve got somebody that we can trust.”

In Baylor’s first two games, Nacita rushed for 124 yards on 20 attempts, averaging 6.2 yards per play.

Nacita put up 20 yards on six carries and a touchdown in his debut game as a Bear. On Saturday, he rushed for 104 yards on 14 attempts and two touchdowns.

Nacita was one of two rushers that contributed over 100 yards on Saturday, making it the first time since Nov. 16, 2013 against Texas Tech that two players accomplished this for the Bears.

“Silas is a good back,” head coach Art Briles said. “He’s a tough kid that plays with a lot of grit and effort.”

Nacita looks for more playing time as the Bears travel to Buffalo, N.Y. to face the Bulls in their first road match of the season on Friday, Sept. 12.

“Every day is a day that I am just so thankful to God and to the coaches for giving me this opportunity,” Nacita said. “Regardless of how much I play or if people ever know me, it doesn’t matter. I am just so thankful to be here.”