Noah Nava is a class of 2023 offensive center out of Newton High School in Newton, Texas. Standing at 6’0″ and weighing 260 pounds with a 3.76 GPA, the senior can bench 385 pounds, squat 505 pounds, deadlift 525 pounds, and run 40 yards in 5.08 seconds. Nava prides himself on his football smarts before the play, which is invaluable to any lineman but even more invaluable when coming from the center. Not too long ago, I had the absolute delight of speaking with Nava football in his life.
Q: Why do you play the game?
“I come from a small town, and that’s all we really do – play football. Since I was about seven, that’s all I’ve really known.”
Q: Where do you see football going in your life?
“I’m going to college to be a coach. Obviously [I see myself playing in my future], but my main goal when I’m done playing is to coach. I always want to be involved in the game.”
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned playing football?
“Believe in yourself. You can know you’re about to play somebody really good and you can doubt yourself, or you can believe that you can beat them and go out there and beat them… even if they’re supposed to be better than you.”
Q: What does football mean to you? How has it grown on you since you first starting playing at seven years old?
“It’s everything. I’ve come back from injuries, I look for it all year long… it’s a main part of my life.”
Q: Those aforementioned injuries… would that be the biggest challenge you have overcome? Or something else?
“Definitely my injury. My sophomore year, I won first team all-district and first team all-area. I was killing it, and then while playing baseball, I tore my ACL and missed six months after coming back early. And before that, I had torn some ligaments in my ankle so I was already going through a recovery from a surgery. My whole junior year last year, I was battling injuries and trying to come back to play. I was getting really discouraged, but this year I’ve been going crazy. That’s proven to help.”
Q: What motivates you to keep playing, despite tearing your ACL?
“Just like I said, it’s a small team and a small town, so we’re all close. I’ve known all my teammates since I was a little kid. Knowing that they were struggling a little bit without me… drove me to play more. My whole life, I’ve played and never missed a game. Watching my friends play, and watching my team win or lose games without me really hurt. [That feeling] drove me to play more.”
Q: How do you balance sports with your other responsibilities?
“I think our school makes it super easy. I have college classes, I go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and it’s really easy [to manage it all], I would say. I still get workouts in… I feel like it is not that big of a challenge.”
Q: Do you have a favorite football memory?
“There’s two that pop up in my mind. I live in a small town about two hours from Houston. So growing up, I fell in love with JJ Watt and watching him play, and I got to go watch him play one time. I think he played Jacksonville, and he had two sacks and he was just going crazy. Right there, that just drove a fire in a little kid like me. [The other memory is] since about seventh grade, we have lost to this team every year. We finally beat them my senior year, and it’s just… sweet victory, you know?”
Q: How do you stay trained and in football-shape during the offseason?
“One of my cousins is at Louisiana-Lafayette right now, and we train like every day [in the offseason]. I live in a small town and my family is not super wealthy, so I have to have a job. And before I go to work, we wake up at five o’clock and lift and get our food in.”
Q: How are you looking to improve your game?
“My team, we run a wing-t offense. So I feel like, as a center, I have to get used to the pass-protection aspect of the game, and we don’t pass the ball a lot. Mainly, if I’m doing one-on-one work or if I’m doing work getting ready for college, I’m focusing on pass protection and working on playing bigger defensive linemen.”
Q: So would you say that run-blocking is more of your strong suit?
“Oh yeah. 100%. I run pretty fast and I’m a regional state power-lifter, so I’m pretty strong.”
Q: What are some goals you’ve set for yourself, for this current season or the future?
“First things first, going to college. That is every high school kid’s dream, to play college, no matter what level. Just to play in it. And then for this season, everybody’s main goal is to win states. That’s the most important thing at the end of the day. You can get every solo award, but your goal should be the state championship. If you’re playing football for the awards, you’re playing for the wrong reason.”
Q: Do you try to model your game after any players, pro or collegiate?
“Whenever I was younger, I used to play defense just because of JJ Watt. He was number one. But now, I’ve tried to play like Jason Kelce cause he moves fast [and] he’s about my size. I try to play the way he plays.”
Q: What is your favorite part of playing not only up front, but that center position?
“The center has to be the smartest guy on the team. I’d like to say I am good with football knowledge and understanding the game, so I like to help some of the other linemen out, be able to pick up blitzes, reach into the second level, and just get down and dirty. Blocking the mean nose guards, or even those fast nose-guards. I just like the challenge that you get to block a lot of different kinds of players and have to be a lot smarter than [them too].”
Q: Do you consider football to be more physically challenging, mentally challenging, or a bit of both?
“Once you’ve been playing the game for so long, I think a lot of the things you start to click on and start to understand once you’ve seen more of it, but it’s definitely both. Physically, you can’t just not do anything for six weeks, go out there, and be good. You have to stay physically fit. You have to stay on top of your game and yourself.”
Q: What is something you want your coaches to know about you, past, present, or future?
“I have a 3.76 GPA, national honours society… I’m a four year varsity athlete and won an all-district award after playing only half the year because I tore my ACL. [But most importantly, I’m a] hard worker, dedicated, and love the game.”
You can view his highlights here.