It wasn’t too long ago that Doug Nester was considered one of the more outstanding offensive line prospects in all of high school football coming from the 2019 recruiting class. The Huntington, West Virginia native was set to star at ‘Thee’ Ohio State University after his standout career at Spring Valley High School, where he was selected as an All-State selection three times overall.
Listed at nearly 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds coming out of Spring Valley, Nester looked to become a staple upfront for what has been a record-setting Buckeyes offense over the last several years. With over twenty schools hot on the trail for his services, Nester looked to one of the big dogs up north to continue his athletic and academic career.
Originally committed to Ohio State in the summer going into his junior year, the talented offensive lineman held firm on his commitment for a long time, buoying the hopes of the offensive line’s future in Columbus.
That optimism unfortunately did not last.
Nearly a year and a half into his recruitment, Nester opted to decommit from the Buckeyes, again testing the water in search of his optimal fit. Among one of Nester’s earliest offers, Virginia Tech pulled to the forefront, eventually landing the talents of this behemoth interior offensive lineman.
Taking his talents just one state over, Nester quickly asserted himself amongst a talented yet inexperienced offensive front in 2019, making ten starts of the eleven games he played as a true freshman. On a unit featuring 2021 NFL Draft potential first-round selection Christian Darrisaw, Nester was arguably the most consistent lineman on the 2019 team, leading to a Freshman All-American honor from Pro Football Focus.
With a year of cohesion for Nester, Darrisaw, offensive guard Lecitus Smith and freshly eligible center Brock Hoffman set to join the crew, expectations were high for the Hokies offensive front. The unit did not disappoint, paving the way for one of the more daunted rushing offenses across the college football landscape, led by Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert.
Nester again played well at the right guard position, using all of his now 330-pound frame to overwhelm defenders at the point of attack. Whether running power, inside or outside zone, he was a people mover who consistently shifts the line of scrimmage in the offense’s favor.
For as dominant as Nester was at times, Virginia Tech opted for a rotation up front, leaving big #74 off the field too often. Frustration began to build for Nester, contemplating whether the Hokies were the best fit long term.
“There was just a lack of communication. We were constantly rotating up front and there was never really an answer why.”
That lack of communication led to a decision being made. In an era where transferring has become so much easier and accessible to college coaches, the Transfer Portal has become more and more utilized by student-athletes to have an opportunity for a second chance.
As you might imagine, there were plenty of suitors for Nester’s service. A 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds people mover is quite the hot commodity on the open market. As John Denver once said, “Country roads, take me home - To the place I belong!”
It quickly became a no-brainer.
“There were a lot of schools who reached out. It feels great to be close to home.”
His hometown Mountaineers, a school right in the backyard, quickly became the best decision for Nester. Fresh off of a 6-4 campaign for head coach Neal Brown this past season, optimism has been building for West Virginia.
Looking back on his experience, coach Brown really did make a huge impact.
“Honestly, if he (Neal Brown) and the staff were in place when I was going through recruiting, I may have ended up at West Virginia.”
No matter the road taken, Nester now returns home to finish out his career, while taking his game to the next level. As they stay, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” For opposing defenders set to face Nester, their finish may be often on their backs.
TURN ON THE TAPE
Even for a gigantic interior offensive lineman, Nester moves well for his size, fitting soundly into Virginia Tech inside-outside zone system that requires offensive lineman to move laterally efficiently. With sufficient foot quickness,
Nester is able to reach backside and establish leverage in the run game. The mean streak then comes out for Nester. Once he is able to land his target, the raw power he boasts through his hips and hands is able to coil and finish defenders on the ground. It is easy to see the nastiness Nester plays with on film. He has moments of being an absolute bully in the run game.
This time Nester is reaching play side on outside zone. He again shows adequate foot quickness to transition laterally to get to his spot. Nester does an outstanding job, not only getting to his spot, but getting his body aligned properly. With clear vision, he is able to seal off flow from the inside and get his butt pointed towards the hole, creating a gigantic lane off his block.
Interestingly enough, Nester’s size, power profile and style might translate to an offense that employs more power running concepts. His success as a zone blocker is evidence to his versatility, both showing instances of winning off of movement and lower body power at the point of attack. That makes him an appealing commodity, especially during his time in the transfer portal.
Despite a high level of experience on the interior, Nester also has reps playing at right tackle, providing some versatility for an offense. In either spot, his impact is felt.
When transferring schools, there are some obvious unknown variables that are tough to consider when projecting future outlook. For a player like Nester, however, the arrow is firmly pointing up no matter the situation. They don’t make men this big every day.
The talent level for the former Freshman All-American is easy to see. There’s a reason that he captured so much attention, accolades and national attention both as a recruit and Hokie. If he is able to put it all together, he could very well end up among the most talented interior offensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft, should he decide to declare.
Whether that NFL future happens next cycle or the year after, Nester should firmly be on NFL radars. With his combination of size, physicality and upside, the West Virginia Mountaineers have potentially one of the more talented guards in all of college football heading into 2021.
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