The opportunity to compete at either the collegiate, professional or Olympic level is no guarantee for any athlete’s career. According to NCAA.com, approximately 1.4 percent of collegiate players are drafted in the MLS SuperDraft.
Becoming the sixth Gaucho ever drafted in the first round, former UCSB men’s soccer star Nick DePuy was drafted 19th overall by the Montreal Impact. DePuy is the 30th player in UCSB history to be drafted into the MLS.
DePuy also is the first player to be drafted in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft since former Gauchos Luis Silva and Sam Garza were selected in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft as the No. 4 and No. 6 picks, respectively.
The former team captain ended his four-year soccer career at UCSB with 83 games played, 80 starts, 31 goals, 66 points, 226 shots, 98 shots on goal, 16 game-winning goals and 11 assists.
Ending with a total 31 goals, DePuy’s scoring mark is tied for fourth most in UCSB history and is tied for seventh most in Big West history. His remarkable total of 16 game-winning goals ranks second in the program record book and is third in conference season. Topping it all off is his feat of 226 shots which places fourth all-time in both UCSB and Big West history.
Take a look inside the UCSB and Big West record books and DePuy’s imprint decorates a variety of statistics. He is the first player in Big West history to be a three-time Offensive Player of the Year, winning the award three times from 2014-2016.
DePuy became the seventh player in UCSB history to receive the accolade and the latest to be given the honors since Garza in 2010.
Along with taking the crown as the conference’s most dominant player for three consecutive seasons, the forward was a three-time All-Big West First Team selection over the same time span.
Although he didn’t begin his collegiate career as the lethal scorer he would soon be known as, DePuy was a pivotal asset in the team’s progression since his arrival in 2013.
He concluded his freshman campaign as one of four players on the team to start in all 21 of UCSB’s matches despite recording no goals that season. He was named to 2013 Big West All-Freshman Team and was also an All-Big West Honorable Mention.
Originally beginning his career as a midfielder and occasionally playing in the center back, DePuy’s journey to becoming one of the nation’s best players began with Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s decision to start the 6’5”, 200-plus pounder at the forward position.
Prior to his first career start as striker in the Gauchos’ game against San Diego State on Sept. 26, 2014, DePuy had just one career goal. The transition proved worthwhile as the move to the top of the field helped UCSB clinch the Big West North title as it ended the year at 10-7-3 and 6-2-2.
His sophomore season marked the buildup to his emergence as UCSB’s top player during the conference portion of the season to lead all players in goals at eight, game-winning goals at five, shots at 42 and points at 17.
The transition to forward was most beneficial the following year as DePuy would go on to have one of the most unforgettable seasons in UCSB history.
His Junior season served as a breakout year in which DePuy’s eight game-winning goals and 15 total regular season goals led the nation; he also became the fourth Gaucho ever to be named an NSCAA First Team All-American.
After making the move to forward, DePuy led the nation in goals with 24 at the end of the 2015 season.
As DePuy produced on the field, the nationwide exposure continued to grow, with DePuy ending the 2015 season as the fourth Gaucho ever to be nominated as a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy — an honor awarded to the top Division I college soccer player.
Following a NSCAA Far West All-Region Third Team selection in 2014, the forward’s astounding junior season led to him being a NSCAA Far West All-Region First Team selection just one year later.
Entering the final chapter of DePuy’s career, it was expected that the Gauchos’s opponents’ primary objective would be to contain the elite striker. While some teams did manage to reduce his role in scoring, he was never completely shut down against competition.
In his final season, DePuy played a team-high 1,872 minutes, led the Big West in shots per game with an average of 3.15 and ranked sixth in the conference in goals with six. Expectations were high as he entered the 2016 season on the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list, was a CSN Preseason All-American and ended up being named to the NSCAA Far West All-Region Second Team.
While the abundance of awards and milestones helped bring recognition to his great talent, DePuy was an even greater leader that remained humble and could be depended on as a team leader.
His legacy is enhanced by his being a counterpart to the program’s achievement of four straight Big West North division titles and its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2011 in the 2015 season.
Known for his skill and willingness to embrace the intensity of a game’s biggest moments while at UCSB, DePuy can only continue to ascend as he prepares for his MLS journey.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of January 19, 2017’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.