You know his cousin, Coby Fleener, and you may know his brother, Aaron Nagel. The former signed last month with Stanford, while the latter signed with Notre Dame. Now the attention of the family, and indeed of college recruiters across the country, is turning to Brett Nagel. The 6'4" 225-pound junior from Lemont (Ill.) High School is a hotly recruited member of the Class of 2008.
The younger Nagel started at outside linebacker and tight end as a sophomore for the Indians, but he was called to play under center this past fall for his junior season after Lemont graduated their only quarterback. Nagel was also forbidden against playing his natural defensive position in 2006, however.
"They would not let me play outside linebacker along with quarterback because I was the only guy. They said it was too risky of a position - too physical for their quarterback," Nagel explains. "So they had me play strong safety. I don't know if that is any safer."
The two-way athlete was not allowed to blitz on defense, but he did manage to snare four interceptions. He ran the Indians' option offense at quarterback, carrying the ball more than he threw it. Nagel rushed for 734 yards and 13 touchdowns in Lemont's 11-game season, while also throwing for another nine scores.
"On offense, I think I excelled at the keep on the option. I got all of my rushing touchdowns from that, actually. That was were I got most of yards, too," he describes. "On defense, I think I excelled because I was able to play back and cover receivers. I'm 6'4", and that helped a little bit. I could also come up and play the run. Our defense is really shifty; we run a lot of different stuff. So I would have a different job almost every play."
Next fall, Nagel will continue at quarterback, but the addition of a backup to the roster will allow him to return to outside linebacker on defense. That is the position where most colleges are recruiting him, and he is readying himself for the transition by adding size and strength this off-season. Nagel played between 195 and 200 pounds last fall. He has thus far swelled to 225 pounds and hopes to start his senior season between 235 and 240.
"I guess that's pretty big for a quarterback but good size for a linebacker," he offers. "I want to be able to maintain my same speed. The last 40 I ran was a 4.6-flat. I would like to maintain that while putting on size."
Nagel says that of his current six scholarship offers, five are for outside linebacker. The exception is Northwestern, who would like him to play in their offensive backfield.
"They want me to play superback, which is kind of like an H-back. He is in the slot sometimes and motions around. Sometimes he is in the backfield," Nagel says.
The Wildcats are something of an outlier; otherwise, schools are enamored of Nagel's projected contributions on defense.
"I've been wrestler, too, my whole life. I didn't wrestle this year, but a lot of schools have said they like that. Wrestlers learn leverage that other athletes don't have," he describes. "My size is another thing. I'm a bigger guy who has quick speed."
Older brother Aaron is also expected to play linebacker in college, though the siblings are quite different prospects. Aaron was 6'1" and 215 pounds at this time a year ago, and he is expected to play the weakside "Will" linebacker at Notre Dame. Brett can run (his PR in the 100m during his sophomore track season was a 11.01) but will probably play on the opposite side of a 4-3 defense as a "Sam" linebacker.
"Both of us are pretty fast for our size," the younger brother begins. "He's two inches shorter than me, if not more than that. He also played running back, so he might be quicker side to side. But I have those inches. I think my film was almost as good as his, if not as good. The size is the main difference."
Brett Nagel's recruitment has also taken a more national flavor at this early stage of the process. His brother pulled in Big 10 offers as a junior before landing the Notre Dame scholarship and quickly committing. Brett has offers thus far from Northwestern, Purdue, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Colorado and Stanford.
"I didn't know what to expect. I thought since I played safety, a lot of schools would be slow to recruit me at linebacker. I was kind of surprised, but I was hoping to get offers like Aaron did," Nagel admits. "I just thought the only reason I might not was because of my tape because I was playing at quarterback and safety."
The Cardinal are the newest to jump on board, putting the written offer in the mail Friday and talking to Nagel's father on the phone. Prospective student-athletes this early in their junior year of high school cannot receive phone calls from college coaches, but communication can and frequently does move in the other direction. A text message asked the son to call Stanford on Friday, but he was at a track meet. His father called to speak with the Cardinal and received the news of the offer.
"I was really excited," the recruit relates. "I know that Stanford is a great, great academic school. Their football team will be going uphill from here, hopefully, with Coach [Jim] Harbaugh now in there. I have always liked Stanford, and it would be kind of cool to play with my cousin, Coby, who signed there in the 2007 class. That was really exciting that I got the news."
Nagel carries a GPA north of 4.0, with a bevy of honors courses on his transcript. He also already scored a 32 on the ACT out of a possible 36. That translates to a 1420 on the 1600-point scale SAT.
"I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, but I think I'm a little bit smarter than Coby," Nagel comments of his cousin, who was successfully admitted to Stanford in January. "He knows that, too."
The Lemont High School junior has yet to submit his admissions application to The Farm, but his academic profile is obviously formidable. While gaining admission is the primary hurdle for many Cardinal recruits, Nagel can more safely move ahead to the decision matrix of his college options. His older brother committed this week a year ago, and Nagel is aiming for a spring conclusion as well.
"Aaron committed about this time last year, and I plan on committing by May," he says. "After talking with my dad, I have decided that I want to have it done before football starts in the summer - actual practices, two-a-days and that stuff. I want to be able to focus on my season and help our team win a state championship instead of worrying about all the texts, the calls from the coaches and the letters."
"I don't have any favorite school I want to go to at this point," Nagel continues. "I'm starting soon to check out the schools who have offered me. I want to make visits to those schools. I'm going to head up to Stanford - I want to say next month sometime - with my dad to check it out. I'm going to narrow things down from there and see how my trips went, if I liked the coaching staffs and facilities. And the education, too. That's a big factor to me."
With his brother already within driving distance in South Bend for the next four years, some observers expect that the next Nagel could avail himself of a college choice close to home. That is appealing to his parents, but he maintains distance will not be the guiding factor in his college decision.
"For me, no, the distance is not really a big factor. I guess my mom would want me to be close to home so that she can come to my games," Nagel notes. "I'm going to check out all of the schools who have offered me. Regardless of the distance away, I'm going to decide based off that. I don't think I'm going to consider the distance from home."
The other dynamic when considering the competitive landscape for Nagel's recruitment is the attraction of playing with his brother for the Irish. Notre Dame has not yet tendered an offer, however, to the younger brother. He says they are recruiting him for outside linebacker, but given that he played elsewhere on his junior film, the Irish want him to work out at their one-day camp at outside linebacker. He attended a one-day camp last summer at Notre Dame with his brother but played tight end. Notre Dame's first such camping opportunity this summer comes in June.
"I might be committed at that time, so I'm not sure where I am with them," Nagel comments. "If they did offer before then, I would have to check out Notre Dame just like I'm going to check out all of the other schools. I don't have one major favorite right now. It would be just as tempting to play with my cousin at Stanford than it would with my brother at Notre Dame. They're not my favorite school. I don't have any favorites. I would say all the schools are equal right now."
The Cardinal are the newest offer and the farthest from Lemont (Ill.), but the campus and school hold serious intrigue for Nagel.
"I've seen pictures on postcards from the coaches, but I haven't been there before," he says. "Coby said it was unbelievable. He went out there when it was bad weather, I guess, on his official [visit]. It rained like every day he was there. He said that still the campus was awesome and he got along with the coaching staff."
"A definite pro for Stanford is the academics," Nagel continues. "I don't know what the statistics are, but I know that they are one of the top academic schools in the nation. That will play a big part in my decision of where I choose to go. I'm not sure of any real cons. They struggled a little bit last year - that might be the only one. But I know they have Coach Harbaugh in there. I'm sure he'll do a great job and help raise the program. There are no cons really."
Nagel tentatively plans on visiting Stanford in the coming weeks, possibly for a Junior Day, with his father and cousin in tow. For a prospect expecting to make his college commitment during his junior year, such an unofficial visit is critical in the absence of official visits (which are allowed by the NCAA only during a recruit's senior year). Nagel says that he would not have scheduled a visit to The Farm without an offer in hand, so Friday's move on the part of the Cardinal coaches appears well timed.
In the big picture, Nagel's visit plans will be the most important aspect of his recruitment to watch in the next few weeks. The only unofficial visit he has taken to an offer school in 2007 was to Northwestern in January. He has not attended any Junior Days among those suitors. He has no stated favorites today, and that determination will rest upon his upcoming visits to the schools. Those trips will have to be scheduled around a pair of upcoming family vacations to Florida and the Ozarks.
Further complicating the picture, Nagel also considers that other active suitors could still add to his offer tally.
"There are some schools I'm in contact with who haven't offered yet," he shares. "I'm not sure where I am at in each of their recruiting processes, but there's Notre Dame. I get a lot of letters from Florida State and Boston College. There's Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and a few more."
Though the time remaining before his planned May college commitment is short, there are a myriad of visits, considerations and suitors still outstanding for Brett Nagel. His is a story to track closely in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to TheBootleg.com and Scout.com for all of the latest with this talented linebacker recruit.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!