In only his fourth year as head coach, Jeff Brothers has made Nashville Christian School a football program that college coaching staffs would be wise to locate.
Alex Givens helped his team to a state semifinal appearance as a sophomore.
The small K-12 school has just over 200 students in the high school. It has 45 on the football team – a number up from 26 when the program began. In the class of 2013, running back Phillip Booker signed with FCS Murray State. The class of 2014 is represented by Trent Mueller, an inside linebacker that head coach Jeff Brothers calls a good one, and a likely FCS signee.
But the classes of 2015 and 2016 at NCS possess players that are worth the trip for just about any coach in the country.
First comes Alex Givens, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound offensive tackle that was a quarterback in eight grade. A starter as a sophomore who played offensive tackle at 215 pounds, Givens added 50 pounds in the offseason and suddenly he looks like an SEC prospect in the trenches.
The new weight took some getting used to for Givens but it has benefited his playing style immediately.
“At first I was moving a little slow,” Givens said. “I had to get used to the body and everything when we got our pads on but I’ve gotten into the body and gotten in shape so I’m moving a lot better than last year. I’m quicker and stronger and moving guys.”
Givens’ head coach Jeff Brothers is excited about what’s to come for a prospect that is still developing.
“I’ve been blessed to be in some programs with some good linemen,” Brothers said. “Guys that have played SEC ball and beyond. He’s that kind of guy. He is a finisher. He’s a great kid but a mean football player. It doesn’t matter what guy is in front of him but they’re in for it.”
Nashville Christian offensive line coach Phillip Montgomery concurs. Despite spending 10 years at mid-state power Brentwood Academy and seeing offensive lineman that found there way onto NFL rosters, Montgomery calls Givens the best he’s ever coached. Through four games the newly-acquired 265 pounds have accounted for 26 pancake blocks, and a 94% grade on film.
Daniel Bituli is one of the state's top 2016 prospects.
For Givens, that finisher’s mentality is what he loves about playing on the offensive line.
“I just hit when the ball goes off,” he said. “Driving until the whistle, good technique, clean playing. I don’t like to trash talk or anything. Hitting and driving is the main thing. That’s my favorite, just planting people into the ground.”
That dominating attitude out of Givens is well received by the running back toting the ball behind him. Through four games, sophomore Daniel Bituli has amassed 597 yards on the ground on only 51 carries. That’s been good for 11.71 yards per carry and seven touchdowns along the way.
If college coaches begin to come to Nashville Christian for Givens, they’ll be returning to see Bituli. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Bituli is a 15-year old that won’t need to transform his body to catch anyone’s eye. As only a sophomore, he already has that body that colleges covet.
While he has made headlines with his play at running back, Bituli could also project to defense where he has accumulated an interception, a pair of recovered fumbles, a forced fumble, 1.5 sacks and a couple of tackles for loss.
While head coach at Pope John Paul II, Brothers coached current Vanderbilt running back Wesley Tate and his brother Golden Tate, now a star in the NFL at wide receiver. Brothers says that Bituli has that kind of ability.
“He reminds me of them as a sophomore, he’s that type of player,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind mentally he can understand the game that way. He’s still just a baby so he’s going to grow and get more experience and he’s a guy that will be a four-year starter in a quality program so he’s going to know how to play the game.”
A native of The Congo, Bituli moved to American with his family when he was two years old. He was exposed more to soccer growing up than football but once he found the field in fifth grade, the game came easy to him. Now he could be a prospect at a number of positions, including linebacker, the position his Brothers sees him projecting to.
“He’s got a nose for the ball,” said the head coach. “He’s very physical with the guys up front. We put him in front of the tight end and he’s very physical with him. He gets off blocks well, plays laterally well with long arms so he knocks passes down and he can play in space. I think he’s a linebacker but certainly he’s a great great tailback for us so if someone is looking for a downhill tailback with speed, that’s him.”
To date, neither Bituli nor Givens have received significant college interest but both Vanderbilt and Tennessee have already caught wind of the in-state talents. Two weeks ago both prospects attended Tennessee’s win over Western Kentucky and came away impressed.
“I loved the fans,” Bituli said of the visit. “They’re really interested in me and greeted me. That opened my heart. I loved their weight room and their facilities. It was amazing.”
“It was amazing,” he said. “They had great facilities. It was a good time. The coaches were nice, everyone was nice up there. The coaches talk to you. It was fun.”
If coaches talking to you is Givens’ idea of fun, there is a lot of fun to be had over the next two years as he and his teammate’s 2013 film begins to circulate.
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