In 2010, the Ironmen were young, so Nova fit perfectly into a role as leader.
In describing Rutgers' latest commit, Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toal and offensive coordinator Anthony Campanile pointed toward the same characteristic that stood out the most on a long list of superlatives.
"I think his poise," Toal said. Said Campanile: "The No. 1 thing you see about Gary is he never gets hung up in the last play, or what's going to happen five minutes from now."
Nova went 24-0 and led Don Bosco Prep to a pair of non-public Group IV state titles. The Ironmen were national champs in 2009, and finished 12-0 and ranked seventh in the USA Today Super 25.
"They got themselves a heckuva quarterback," Toal said. "He's a winner. They need themselves a winner down there, and he's used to winning. That's going to be a big difference."
Nova completed 90 of 157 passes for 1,696 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior.
He is calm and at home in the pocket, and Toal added Nova's elusiveness to make plays when protection breaks down is underrated.
"He's mobile enough to evade the rush and he's definitely as poised as he can be," Toal said. "He's poised beyond his years. Heck, he's undefeated. He never lost a game in high school. Him and (former Rutgers quarterback) Mike Teel are the only two guys that can say that.
"I think it's impressive. Rutgers got themselves another impressive Bosco quarterback."
Asked what is Nova's best attribute, Toal did not hesitate to answer.
"I think he's got a tremendously strong arm, and he's one of the most poised athletes that's I've ever coached," Toal said. "He's hard to rattle. He won't rattle easy. If he throws an interception, he comes off the field the same way as if he throws a touchdown a lot of times. He's a pretty darn poised kid. He doesn't get caught up in the moment."
Campanile, who played at Rutgers and completed in his first year as the Ironmen's offensive coordinator, said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Nova has an infectious personality in which players naturally follow him.
When Nova originally committed to Pittsburgh in the spring, he was a leader in talking to other recruits, especially in New Jersey, about joining him with the Panthers.
By the time the Pittsburgh staff was let go, the Panthers had four New Jersey commitments in Nova, Winslow Township (Atco, N.J.) receiver Bill Belton, Timber Creek (Erial, N.J.) linebacker Quinton Alston and Paramus (N.J.) Catholic defensive tackle Marquise Wright.
"They're getting a guy that can get along with just about anybody, and for a myriad of reasons, guys want to play hard for him," Campanile said. "They seem to play better when they're around him. I think that's the biggest thing.
"He's very comfortable, very smooth. He'll be a tremendous pro-style quarterback. He's a great play-action guy. He's very comfortable, and a very confident guy. I wouldn't say cocky, but he's a very confident guy."
Rutgers quarterback situation is in flux after Tom Savage transferred. It leaves Chas Dodd as the only healthy scholarship quarterback (Steve Shimko had shoulder surgery in the fall), with walk-ons Jason Friday and Tyler Bellia also set to get reps in spring practice.
But will Nova, who will compete with Rutgers commit Mike Bimonte of Manalapan High (Englishtown, N.J.), be ready to play as a true freshman?
"I think there's a learning curve no matter where you go," Toal said. "If he has to play, I'm sure he'll be ready to play. We'll see. There's a lot of opportunity there. He may be on the field early."