Look at the picture. That confident smile. The dashing, helmetless Citadel quarterback, clearly in command of the team and probably a lot more than that.
In the 1960 snapshot, it looks like Nettles knows what he's doing.
A half-century later, he still does. Nettles was the starting quarterback in The Citadel's only bowl appearance, a 27-0 Tangerine Bowl victory over Tennessee Tech in 1960. For the last 28 years, he has run the Pee Dee Quarterback School (sometimes known as the Jerry Nettles Quarterback Camp) for ambitious middle school, high school and college passers. Nettles, 71, operates the camps at his Darlington County home and at high schools and other spots around the Carolinas.
Total attendees: Roughly 1,200.
"He just constantly stays hip," said Jack Douglas, a former Citadel quarterback who followed Nettles into the school's athletic hall of fame. "He has the energy of a man much younger. I don't know how he keeps doing it, but he does."
Virtually every state championship
or Shrine Bowl quarterback of the last two decades is a Nettles camp graduate. The list includes Douglas, Woodrow Dantzler of Clemson, Shawn Graves of Wofford and top high school quarterbacks beginning with Perry Cuda, who, like Nettles, played for John McKissick at Summerville High School.
"It is amazing how many of those people keep in contact with us," Nettles said. "It has been a lot of fun keeping up with them. But most of them want to talk to my wife when they call."
Cecelia Nettles, a big part of the camps, had breast cancer surgery five years ago and has bravely battled ever since. She has helped her husband host as many as 72 quarterbacks at a time on their 34-acre spread near Florence.
The big guesthouse comes in handy. Along with quarterbacks, high school coaches visit, too. Before NCAA rules changed, college coaches such as Charlie Taaffe, Ralph Friedgen and Mike O'Cain took part.
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts once stopped by as a guest of Nike. The record-setting former San Diego Chargers quarterback and Nettles swapped teaching stories into the wee hours. They agreed that the keys to quarterback play were four simple things: Feet, hands, shoulders and eyes.
"And, by the way, I would never teach you that there are more than five things about any subject," Nettles said. "Let's talk math, OK? Adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing. It's simple. E=MC2 is only multiplying and dividing. Did you know that?"
Nettles' most vivid Tangerine Bowl memories are not about the game itself.
"We had just beaten Arkansas State and we were on the plane flying back and coach (Eddie) Teague made the announcement we had a chance to go to the Tangerine Bowl," Nettles said. "We voted unanimously to go. We took a train ride from Charleston to Orlando. It was just wonderful. It's not like an airplane ride; it takes time and you can socialize. I love train trips."
The game raised money for an Orlando children's hospital.
"I want to tell you," Nettles said, "that's what the game was all about. When you go to that hospital and you hold a child, you know that."
Nettles tries to keep in touch with as many college teammates as possible and continues to seek feedback from McKissick, famously still coaching at Summerville High School.
"Without a doubt my closest friend in life," Nettles said.
Earlier this year, Nettles decided 2010 would be his last summer in the quarterback guru biz. But that was before hosting 19 new high school passers in June.
"This guy in the guest house stood up one night and said, 'Coach, we can stand up and speak if we want to, right?' I said, 'Yes. Just raise your hand and you've got the floor.' He said, 'OK, we've voted. This is not your last year. Do you hear me?' "
So Nettles will keep going, and future students should be as happy as former campers.
"No matter what he's preaching about, he loves it," Douglas said. "He's infectious."
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 937-5593