Earning starting time as a true freshman, Nova is a two-time undefeated national champion out of high school and won three of his five starts last season.
But no matter where his confidence ranked, it is even higher now that he has a year in the Rutgers program heading into training camp.
"I feel really good, really confident," Nova said. "I'm just having a lot of fun and executing the offense even better than the spring. We're getting better every day and I'm just going to keep taking this position battle day by day."
Nova was solid in his first camp at Rutgers and has been impressive through four practices this season. Citing an improved comfort level, simply knowing what to say and where to stand has made all of the difference.
"I was lost and really nervous [last camp]," Nova said. "There were a lot of expectations for me. This year, I'm just confident. I feel a lot more relaxed and a lot more comfortable with the guys. I'm just hoping it carries over to the first game against Tulane."
Comfort and confidence shined through at today's practice when Nova lost his voice. Instead of being flustered and losing his cool, the fiery sophomore made a joke out of it and put in a solid practice, said coach Kyle Flood.
"It was hysterical," Nova said. "They actually had a microphone on me with a guy standing behind so everyone could hear. It was something different. It was really funny. We'll do whatever to get the job done."
In addition to his experience, Nova cited his offseason focus on conditioning as a huge player in his strong start to training camp.
"It was pretty big," Nova said on his conditioning focus. "Over the whole summer I was trying to lose weight. I was almost 240, maybe higher during the spring and that's not good. Right now I'm about 225 and I'm still trying to cut down to just be in great shape. With guys [strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Cole] and the rest of the strength staff, that won't be hard."
Nova said he believes to be in the best shape of his life, but the 6-foot-2 gunslinger admits there is still room for improvement.
"I feel like I can be in better shape," Nova said. "I'm still working on it, but I'm feeling great. Coach Cole does a great job. I'm looking forward to the next two years in his program. I'll probably leave in the best shape of my life. Right now, I'm still trying to lose weight. I feel like I can get myself better before the season."
Nova is splitting daily reps with junior Chas Dodd in what will be the hottest quarterback battle on campus since 2009. The pads go on tomorrow with Saturday being the first benchmark date for the quarterbacks, facing scrimmage situations in front of the fans.
"It's a chance to have fun," Nova said. "Of course, I'm going out there to compete, to win a job. I have to execute and hopefully get the better of the defense, but just have fun. Go out there and embrace that chance to be in front of the fans and stuff and just have fun. Afterwards, just see the tape and make corrections."
Gary Nova on…
Freshman receiver Leonte Carroo "I think he's doing good. It's a lot of stuff to learn and that's what I tell him. There's a lot of stuff to learn at receiver, especially at his position. He's playing the Z, so it's a lot of stuff to learn. He's doing a great job. He had a few catches. He got some reps. I think a kid like that, when he gets an opportunity, is going to do a lot with it. I love having him on my team again. I know that."
Which receiver he is building a connection with "Brandon Coleman, he and I worked a lot in the offseason. He's working hard, staying focused, catching the ball and stuff like that. He's going to have a really big year, and I'm looking forward to working with him."
Reunion with high-school coordinator Anthony Campanile "We eat lunch together and we always text. It's really good to have someone like that around. He's a really good football coach too. He's going to really help the defense and everything."