Every practice is high pressure for Myles Nash, who competes for a significant role at defensive end in his third season.
The first day in full pads, however, turned up the pressure gauge even more because of some special visitors at practice.
Erial (N.J.) Timber Creek football attended Friday’s practice, where Nash and fellow lineman Quanzell Lambert once starred under the guise of head coach Rob Hinson.
“It was really entertaining to see him on the sidelines,” Nash said. “It was like high school all over again. It kind of felt like a game atmosphere out there, trying to not make any mistakes in front of him. Me and Quanzell, we room at the dorms, and we were just talking about how we have to make an impression in front of coach Hinson.
“We were really excited to see him out there. He’s like a father figure to us. I’m glad to see him out there, and I’ve got a brother and a nephew playing on the team, so they were here too. It was just an added pressure to play well and not make any mistakes.”
South Jersey remains a critical area for Rutgers recruiting with players like Paul James, Lambert and Nash set for roles this season. The Scarlet Knights signed Ronnie James in their 2015 recruiting class as the newest South Jersey member of the roster.
“Seeing all the kids out there that looked up to me when I was a senior and they were freshmen, they’re grown up now,” Nash said. “There’s a lot of talent in that area. It’s a great area for football. Some kids down there are going to be playing a lot of football.”
On the field, Nash sits in a battle for a spot in the rotation at defensive end. The sophomore committed to Rutgers as a strongside linebacker before he moved positions in the offseason.
Nash called defensive end the position he “always wanted.”
“Some people may be looking at me like I’m at a new position, but I feel like I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Nash said. “I’m going out there and working hard because I want to make an impact on that field.”
“For the R position, watch NFL football and the teams that have that 3-4 outside linebacker,” Nash said. “It’s similar to what the R does at Rutgers, except that we don’t run a 3-4. An R has to be consistent at stopping the run and playing physical with good technique. Then there’s instances where you need to drop back in pass coverage and make a play.”
Nash focused on his body in the offseason and credits strength coach Jeremy Cole for improvements. Nash began training camp at 240 pounds – a 15-pound increase – and dropped his body fat percentage from 21 to 10 percent.