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NC State Football

Nate's Story: How It All Started

August 2, 2017

Growing up in Newark, New Jersey with my mom wasn't easy. It was tough.

I had one goal as a kid. I wanted to live past the age of 16. That was my goal. All of my friends were in the streets and growing up in that environment you sometimes have that mindset. I did. I wasn't sure I would live past 16.

The sport I loved back then was basketball. That was all I played up in New Jersey. I was really good at it, and my freshman year of high school I moved down to Wallace, North Carolina to live with my dad. My intention was to star at basketball for Wallace-Rose Hill [High School], but then one day at the start of my freshman year things changed for me.

My life changed.

I'll never forget the day football came into my life.

Living in New Jersey, we didn't have school buses. We'd walk to and from school everyday.  So at the start of my freshman year of high school down in North Carolina I didn't know what the hell was going on when I walked out of school and saw all the buses leaving. I didn't know how I would get home.

Next thing I know, I saw a short, white guy walking towards me. He had on blue shorts, a white shirt, and he had the hairiest arms I'd ever seen. His name was Jack Holley.  At the time, I didn't know who the hell Jack Holley was, but he started yelling at me to go into the weight room and “sign up.” I asked him what was I signing up for and he told me football. I remember telling him that I didn't play football, I didn't even like football. Coach Holley said to go sign up anyways.

That's how it started for me, and I owe it to coach Holley. He literally told me to sign up. If he hadn't, I don't know where I'd be.

I began playing football in the ninth grade and liked it right away. I was playing tight end, and it was fun catching footballs, scoring touchdowns. My sophomore year I moved up to varsity where I started to play on the defensive side of the ball. I started paying attention to the details of the game and take it more serious because of my linebackers coach, Tim Jenkins. He was always on me hard and kept telling me that I could maybe go to a big school if I worked really hard on the field and in the weight room. I started to listen to what he was talking about, and I had really good junior year.

The first schools to contact me were schools like Catawba and Wesleyan College. I think that was during my junior season, but later on I received letters from the University of Virginia, Clemson, Wake Forest, and East Carolina. I'll never forget it, just to see the colors of the envelopes when those letters came in, I was excited about that.

Still at that point I don't think I had any college offers. The spring before my senior year I went to some camps with my coaches, Jack Holley and Battle Holley, father and son. I went to an adidas combine up at NC State and a Shrine Bowl combine.

Thinking back on that time, I had no clue how important those combines were. I didn't understand what it was about. For me, I had a Saturday off so I was just going to those events with my coaches. They'd tell me to do all these drills the best I could and then they'd take me home. I didn't know how serious it was.

I really don't know if that impacted my recruitment much or not. I was hearing from schools, and with NC State the coach recruiting me was Dwayne Dixon. I believe he was the only college coach to really stay in contact with me. He started reaching out that spring, and we began to develop a relationship. He also built a relationship with my family.

Coach Dixon was my recruiter, but coach Amato was recruiting me as well. My first impression of Chuck was he had a big ass chest. I was taken back because the voice didn't match the chest, but he was a cool guy... real down-to-earth.

I was actually in serious talks with East Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, and Carolina too, but coach Dixon helped out a lot. He was there talking to me every step of the way, more than any other coach did.

The other thing with State was when I visited, they treated me like family. I watched games there, and it was crazy. They had Mario, Tank, Manny, Tulloch, Hoyte... the defense was just the nastiest I've ever seen. They'd fly around and hit people. Also, that stadium... it was so loud, so live. It gave me chills. It still gives me chills. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.

I'll never forget when they offered, I still have the picture. It was me, my coach, and my family, and I believe I committed shortly after I got the offer. For me, that senior year of high school after committing to NC State... it was just surreal. It was a huge blessing. I was going to be the first from my family to go to college, the first to play college sports. To show my sisters and brothers that, it meant a lot to me.

After signing that spring, I didn't feel less pressure. It put even more pressure on me. I didn't want to let myself down or my family down. I also didn't want to let the coaches or NC State down.

I had to be ready.

Guys from small schools don't always get the chance I was getting, so I was looking to go out and prove that there are great athletes at small schools. We just need a chance. I felt I'd represent my high school and put it on the map so down the road more colleges would come down there.

I felt that pressure, but that wasn't a bad thing to me.

Preparing for my first year at NC State, I knew I wanted to be great.


NOTE: Stay tuned next time when Nate talks about his first couple of seasons at NC State.
Discussion from...

Nate's Story: How It All Started

11,006 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 6 yr ago by PackMom
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That's something you will get no place else!

Thank you Nate
Payton Wilson on what he thought of Carter Finley: Drunk Crazy Crowded

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thanks Nate!!
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I remember watching Nate play as a Jr and Sr at WRH.....he was such a beast, and I was so pumped the day we signed him, I just knew he was going to be special
Don't give up, don't ever give up-Jimmy V
Twitter: @jrouse84
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That was AWESOME. Can't wait for the next installment. I was cracking up when Nate wrote the "big ass chest" part lolol
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There is nothing like reading a first hand story! Nate is prepping for his next career here. Great stuff, and looking forward to the next installment!
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Definitely one of my all-time favorite players!
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Wow! Awesome read from an awesome player!
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Great story, Nate! Looking forward to the next chapter.
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