Nebraska Football: What Noa Pola-Gates can bring to the Blackshirts

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Nebraska football signed four-star defensive back Noa Pola-Gates, a 2019 recruit and here’s how he can help the defense right away.

During the early signing period, the Nebraska football team nabbed a few four-star recruits. But on Saturday, at the Polynesian Bowl, the Huskers got another as four-star defensive back Noa Pola-Gates announced his intention to play for NU.

While some view Pola-Gates as a safety, others see him as a cornerback and according to the 247 composite rankings, he’s the 18th-rated corner and the No. 156 prospect overall.

Pola-Gates made the announcement during the All-Star game and it was soon followed by an official announcement from the Nebraska football program which means Pola-Gates already signed his national letter of intent. So no matter what, he’s a Husker.

It’s also interesting to note that Nebraska named Pola-Gates only as a defensive back. That means he could play either corner or safety and that’s exactly how it should be. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pola-Gates is a quick-twitch athlete, but one that’s physical too.

In this new age of college football, it’s all about having athletes and in the secondary for Nebraska, Pola-Gates will be as good as it gets. The Huskers have some key guys back in the secondary but with Pola-Gates ability, there could definitely be a  place for him.

Even teams that don’t necessarily run the spread offense, use spread concepts and that means having five, sometimes even six or seven defensive backs on the field. Of course, then teams can try to attack you with the run game, which is where a guy like Pola-Gates adds a lot of value.

He’s the ideal guy to put in the slot. He tackles and can play the run like a safety, while also playing like a corner, covering man-to-man in the slot. During the All-American Bowl, Pola-Gates was impressive in coverage.

One thing that stands out about him is how fluid he is. He flips his hips very naturally but he also showed an ability to be able to tackle athletes in space. That is as important as anything. Defenses need to be able to pressure the quarterback and they also need to be able to tackle.

Missed tackles are probably the most overlooked thing when it comes to bad defense. One missed tackle can turn a one or two-yard gain into 15 or 20, sometimes even a touchdown. Tackling is about toughness but it’s also about athleticism.

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If you are going to cover great athletes and tackle great athletes to the ground, you better have some tremendous athletes of your own and Pola-Gates certainly fits that mold. And that’s why he’s an absolutely perfect fit for the Blackshirt defense.