Off the field, Ocean Lakes defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi plays the role of the gentle giant, as he's soft-spoken and has a compassionate and humble demeanor. But on the field, he turns into something much more fierce, and much more disruptive.
Surely, Florida State will be quite pleased with both sides of his personality after signing him to the program. The prospect tweeted out his decision on Wednesday morning:
Nnadi is considered a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports' composite rankings, which also have him as the No. 99 recruit in the nation, the No. 7 defensive tackle prospect in the country and the No. 5 recruit in the state of Virginia. He was also a 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection.
Standing at 6'1" and weighing 305 pounds, Nnadi is compact and powerful, able to maintain good leverage on the line and fill gaps against the running game.
Here are excerpts from ESPN's scouting report (subscription required) of Nnadi:
He is a compact, but thickly built D-Tackle who shows he can use his lack of ideal height to his advantage. He is not a quick penetrating type of player. Generates very good power from his thickly built base. [...]
Can be a stout and physical presence in the trenches. He's a bit more of a physical gap control player, but will give effort in pursuit and can be active along the line of scrimmage. He flashes the ability to come across the ball and flatten quickly, but does need to improve his attack angles. [...]
He certainly looks explosive in the drill seen below:
But what makes Nnadi such an intriguing recruit is how polar opposite he acts off the field compared to how he plays on it. Larry Rubama of The Virginian-Pilot provides some more insight into that contradiction:
"On the field on Friday nights, he's just a monster," teammate Brandon Simmons, a running back, said laughing. "He's a whole different person. He plays with intensity and aggression. If I was on the other team and he was coming after me, I'd be terrified."
But off the field Nnadi is caring, and admittedly childish. He loves cartoons, including "SpongeBob Squarepants."
"On the field I'm a mean dude; I scare myself sometimes," Nnadi said. "But off the field I'll also do anything to make people feel good, especially if they're feeling bad. I'll do anything to make them feel happy."
Every football program wants a guy who is vicious on the field but can leave that aggression between the white lines during the week. It helps when that player is a force in the interior of the line and can really make a huge impact in run defense.
Nnadi is talented enough to be a plug-and-play type of performer in his freshman year if he is needed to contribute immediately. He's a very well-rounded prospect with a solid frame, and 247Sports highlights his quickness and athleticism.
That should help him make a smooth transition in his first year.
All his coaches and teammates have to do is remind the gentle giant that it's time to turn into a beast on Saturdays, much like he did for Ocean Lakes.