Close to a year ago at this time, not many outside the Basha football program knew of Jonathan Nathaniel. That was until spring football practices began and as people outside the program started to show up in the southeast valley whether it was college coaches or media, Nathaniel’s size and skill set could help but be noticed.
A year has almost gone by since Basha’s 2015 spring practice and Nathaniel now holds six division I offers from schools at the next level. He is considered among the top offensive lineman in Arizona as he gears up for his senior season.
“It is crazy how fast it picked up,” Nathaniel told Sports360AZ. “It was really unexpected. I didn’t really try to make contact with the coaches but it just sort of started to happen as I put out my mid-season highlights and my senior highlights.”
“It is amazing what a difference a year can make,” mentioned Basha head football coach Gerald Todd. “Jonathan is one of those kids that have really started to come into his own. He’s started to come into his man body a little bit. Last year, he was a little soft, a little pudgy. He he got in there, played against some really great players from Hamilton and Centennial and that makes you grow up pretty quick.”
Basha graduated every member of their line from last season minus Nathaniel. Players like Colton Dunkle, Anthony Personale and Nick Silvestro will be off competing at the next level leaving the reins to Nathaniel to lead the way. It is what he learned from those seniors last season that has him more than prepared to be the leader on the line.
“I am into high school playing the d-line,” explained Nathaniel. “I didn’t know much about the o-line but if I had to say the thing I took from them the most was the leadership. I learned the other things from my coach and I picked that up pretty fast but it was the leadership role that they played.”
“It something you learn every year that when those guys leave, it’s a new team,” stated Todd. “I think he has stepped into that leadership role and has just kind of claimed it so I am excited about the work that he’s doing.”
While many football players this time of year are out competing in track, on the baseball field or are just working out with football, Nathaniel is trying something different this spring to keep him active. He is trying rugby for the first time.
“I really didn’t know much about it,” Nathaniel said. “I played in a Rugby game before a couple years ago because they were short on players but I actually joined Chandler Unified Rugby and it’s just fun to have something new other than football because I have been playing football for about six years. So it’s fun to try to do something else and to learn a new sport.”
Nathaniel mentioned there are many things he has picked up on from rugby that will positively translate to the football field and is excited to put that into play when spring ball 2016 begins in a few weeks.