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I tell him that we are about to start in a minute and his reply is of one that is anticipating what this process will consist of. Yet still, his confidence in his ability is matched with his humility. He’s ready!
Nate “Scoobs” Gaines is a 6’2″ 220 lbs senior safety at the University Texas at San Antonio. The NFL prospect is expected to be a hot commodity for NFL and CFL teams in the spring.
Coming out of Mesquite Texas, Gaines is not the only athletic person in his immediate family. “Coming out of high school, my [older] brother was actually better than me. He played football and basketball,” said Gaines. His sister played college basketball at North Dakota State.
Being introduced to football at the age of three, playing catch with his father turned from just a bonding moment into a passion. Gaines played wide receiver in high school throughout all four years until the last game of the regular season.
“In the midst of a blowout, they asked me if I wanted to play safety. They told me just back pedal and look for the ball,” remembered Gaines. “Literally the first play I was in, I got an interception.” Gaines got a second chance in the playoffs in route of another blowout and took advantage of intercepting another pass.
Although he was a successful wide receiver in high school, “Scoobs” fell in love with the safety position. The physical nature of the position is what gets him excited about playing safety. “Although it might sound bad, I just get a real joy out of hitting people,” mentions Gaines. The challenge of stopping an offense going down the field is ultimately what drives him.
His love for playing defense is evident on the field. Gaines’ hard hitting ability coupled with his text book tackling is uncanny for today’s era of football. His knack for the ball is a compliment to his ability of being able to cover the entire field because of his range.
“Literally the first play I was in, I got an interception.”
During his sophomore year, there was a game against Oklahoma State Cowboys where Gaines displayed his skill-set. He finished the game with 12 tackles, two pass break ups and a fumble recovery. “I just knew from that game that I was made for this,” stated Gaines.
Although these are natural gifts that he was blessed with, Scoobs tries to emulate a certain player. “I really do like Earl Thomas. His range is incredible,” said Gaines. Just like Thomas, Gaines believes his best attribute is his football IQ.
He enjoys learning the playbook and getting the chance to figure out the offensive schemes. “I’m very good at reading the offense’s intensions. It’s important to have that IQ so that you can be put in the best position possible,” states Gaines.
There was a time when all he could do was just read defenses. The hard hitting safety suffered through a significant injury that kept him down. The junior broke two bones, one on each shoulder in the third game of the season.
Although very timid and in pain, Gaines fought through it and played with courage throughout the season laboring from each tackle. “I didn’t want to let my team down so I just fought through it and did whatever I had to do,” said Gaines.
“Although it might sound bad, I just get a real joy out of hitting people”
He feared that he had ended his short career and wouldn’t be able to play again. Of course he was able to endure this obstacle and come out strong but this wasn’t the first time he had to overcome adversity.
Coming up as a young child, Gaines’s family was forced to move from home-to-home due to unfortunate circumstances. “Growing up, I never got to live in a stable household and lived in about seven cities and maybe 15 different homes,” stated Gaines.
After Gaines parents divorced, he would go from one parent’s home to another but that never deterred the Texas native or his parents from raising him the right way. “It’s kind of unique because although they are divorced, they’re still like best friends with each other and still hang out and are together around us,” said Gaines.
Although he credits his entire family for helping him stay humble and supporting him, one family member sticks out like a sore thumb. “My mom is the most hard working person I’ve ever got to witness and experience,” stated Gaines.
His mother became a young parent and sacrificed school and more just to raise her family. This motivates “Scoobs” and this is the reason he’s so determined to succeed. “Seeing the things she has gone through and encountered makes me go much harder and drives me to go to the NFL to be able to take that pressure off of her,” said Gaines.
“I didn’t want to let my team down so I just fought through it and did whatever I had to do”
Because of his hard work, he has been invited to the Tropical Bowl, an All-Star game for top collegiate players held in Daytona, Florida on January 15. Very proud of this accomplishment, Gaines knows this is just the beginning.
“I can’t wait to get back to weight lifting and training. My ultimate goal is to make it to a training camp and be that person who brings life to the team.”