Nate Orchard has family in mind as NFL Draft approaches

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) – Nate Orchard’s NFL dreams are about to come true. But when the former Highland High and University of Utah star hears his name called at the NFL Draft this weekend, it won’t be just about him.

“I’m the type of person that likes to have things under control,” Orchard said. “But this is out of my hands and I have no control over it whatsoever. It’s hard to predict.”

It was hard to predict Orchard would be in this position a few years ago. After a rough childhood in Los Angeles, Orchard moved to Utah with his brother when he was ten. He was eventually adopted by his friend’s family, the Orchards, and Nate started building quite a life for himself.

On the field, Orchard achieved incredible success last year. He set a school record with 18 1/2 sacks and earned first team All-American honors. 

Off the field, Orchard got married and had a daughter, Katherine, who is now almost two years old. Of all his accomplishments, Orchard’s character and maturity have impressed NFL scouts the most.

“Just the way I’ve handled my situation and my upbringing,” Orchard said. “Kind of how I’ve become the person that I am today. I’m married with a kid, doing really well. I graduated with an economics degree. [NFL teams] are all happy about that. It’s a huge relief for teams. Knowing that they’ve got a guy that’s going to come in, contribute and not be an issue off the field is big.”

Ferocious on the field, and a gentle giant off it, Orchard always had NFL talent. But something clicked during his senior season that has him projected to be drafted in the second or third rounds. That something is a family of his own.

“To figure out what is important in my life and what are my priorities was important,” Orchard said. “Even at such a young age to have that figured out. To have my wife, my daughter and school on the top of my list, it made football a lot easier.”

Orchard’s joy off the field carried over to his play on the field. His versatility has also helped his draft stock with his ability to play both defensive end and linebacker.

“I’ve been moved all around ever since high school,” Orchard said. “From receiver to safety to linebacker to defensive end. I think the transition will be smooth wherever I play. I mean, it opens me up to all 32 teams whether they play the 3-4 [defense] or the 4-3, which is nice. So, it definitely opens up my options.”

But with so much money about to be thrown his way, what is he looking forward to the most? A car? A house? Not quite.

“I just want security,” he said. “Knowing that I’m going to have to take care of my daughter and my wife. If anything does happen, I’ll be able to leave something for them. But I just want to prepare for my daughter’s college. I need to get those savings taken care of, do the right things and just take care of the family.”

With priorities like those, it’s no wonder why Orchard is beloved by his community. From his days at Highland High, where he won football and basketball state titles, to helping Utah become a defensive power in the Pac-12, Orchard says that no matter where the NFL takes him, he will always be grateful to his adopted hometown.

“Definitely, and I’m happy to represent everyone here especially at the next level,” Orchard said. “This is home to me. Wherever I go, I know the community is going to follow me and I hope they do. But it’s an exciting time and I just can’t wait to see what happens.”

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