HUNTINGTON — Spring Valley standout offensive lineman Doug Nester had already cemented himself as one of the top Class of 2019 prospects before being chosen to play in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
After his performance in Saturday’s All-American Bowl at the Alamodome, Nester re-asserted his stance among the elite unsigned prospects left on the offensive line for National Signing Day in February.
The 6-foot-7, 315-pound prospect is softly committed to Ohio State, but teams such as Penn State, Virginia Tech and Georgia are hot on his trail. He showed why with several powerful blocks and a solid week growing in pass protection while helping the East to an easy 48-14 win on Saturday.
“He played really well,” said Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess, who was in attendance for the contest. “He picked up a couple pancakes and in pass pro, he didn’t give up anything and [the defense] did a lot of stunts. For that stage and that level of talent, I thought he performed really well. They were very pleased with him there and he started. Every drive he was in on, they scored. That says something right there.”
For Nester, the in-game performance was crucial to showcase his abilities because, other than individual combines, he doesn’t often get the chance to go head-to-head with elite-level competition on the national stage.
Even during the W.Va. high school season, when elite competition was present, teams often didn’t match their best on Nester in an effort to try and gain an advantage with their best elsewhere, according to Dingess.
Also, due to Spring Valley’s offensive scheme, those on-hand wanted to see Nester’s abilities in pass protection and how he would grow with coaching throughout the week.
“Really, the big question marks were, where he’s from West Virginia and the level of talent that we play, how was he going to perform against all these other guys in a game-like situation,” Dingess said. “You get in the combines and it is just one-on-one — it’s not game football — and you sort through the pieces. In a real game, he did really well and he got to work on his pass sets a lot because we don’t do it much. He didn’t really see a great pass rush all year because teams tried to squeeze us where we run power and trap.”
One of the things Dingess pointed out about Nester that showed in the performance is the level of nastiness that he brings to the table once the lights go on for a game. On several occasions, Nester was seen finishing plays out and, when things got chippy, Nester was in the thick of it going toe-to-toe with the nation’s best.
The performance springboards Nester into the final month of his recruitment, which could see him stay committed to the Buckeyes or land with another of the teams that he schedules to visit. It is likely that Penn State will receive one of those visits and Virginia Tech and Georgia are also schools who could see him make a trip to campus.
Dingess added that with Nester and Huntington High’s Darnell Wright being the top-rated unsigned offensive linemen for the Class of 2019 prior to February’s National Signing Day, the Tri-State will be buzzing with championship-caliber FBS coaches trying to lure the two prospects over the next few weeks.
“That’s going to happen when you’ve got two top-100 kids and two top-20 linemen in the nation unsigned,” Dingess said. “I think they are the two highest-ranked linemen who aren’t signed yet, so that’s crazy. It’s just crazy.”
National Signing Day is on Feb. 6 — less than one month from today.