When Cypress Falls (Houston) High coach Kirk Eaton decided to move Nate Dalton away from quarterback, his secondary coach had to talk him into playing him at cornerback.
The two-star defensive back prospect had been a quarterback, but Eaton thought his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame would be better suited as a wide receiver or safety.
After several injuries in the defensive backfield, Eaton knew Dalton would need to play defense, but his secondary coach surprised him with an idea: play him at corner.
“My secondary coach had to talk me into playing him at corner because I thought we’d play him at safety,” Eaton said. “He’s the largest corner I’ve ever coached.”
Despite having only one season as a defense-only player, Dalton has emerged as a sought after recruit with offers from Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Washington State, among others.
This did not come as a surprise to Eaton, who knew his athleticism would translate well to any position.
“He probably would have been recruitable as a wide receiver,” Eaton said. “He’s very physical and well-versed in man or zone.”
Before he made the switch, Dalton had some 7-on-7 tournaments in which he would catch a touchdown, throw for a score and return an interception for another.
His ability to play so well on defense is related to his experience as a quarterback, according to Eaton.
“You can see he understands passing concepts, like the smash concept and full verticals,” Eaton said. “He knows the complementary routes.”
Off the field, Eaton said Dalton is not a flashy kid. Instead, he’s more quiet and reserved.
“He’s all about business,” Eaton said. “He’s a good teammate, but he’s not a vocal, Twitter guy. He leads by example. It’s kind of refreshing.”
As far as Arkansas is concerned, Eaton said he loves what Bret Bielema has done with the Razorbacks and was encouraged by their close losses – such as against Alabama – and the Texas Bowl win over Texas.
Eaton has known Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings since Jennings’ days at Houston and TCU, dating back to 2005.
If Jennings and the Razorbacks are able to land Dalton – who will take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 16 – Eaton said they would get one of the best corners he’s ever coached.
“He’s the most athletic corner I’ve coached, by far,” Eaton said, “and I’ve coached several guys that have made it to the NFL.”
Dalton Thrives on Defense
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