Mark Nabou (iOL, 6’4” 310, O’Dea, WA)
Yet another burly local prospect that has the build of a future “ready-made college lineman”, Nabou is an underrated HS OT that projects to the interior in college. At a stout 6-4 and 310lbs (some reports have him in the 320s now), Nabou boasts prototypical iOL size and decently quick feet. While not on the same tier as the more nationally heralded local prospects (Conerly, Agbo, Iuli, etc.) Nabou has the physical tools to be an under the radar diamond-in-the-rough.
Nabou played in a run-heavy at local powerhouse O’Dea, so while he has understandably raw pass protection footwork and technique, he was able to show off a versatility and athleticism in their various blocking schemes. Nabou’s overall athleticism could make him an above average iOL, but he’s better described as an athletic lineman than athlete playing on the line. His plays on tape as a pulling tackle emphasized his straight-line speed, as 300+ lb OL don’t usually move as quickly or fluidly as he does. However, Nabou’s overall leg drive and power aren’t as overwhelming as you would expect. He’ll run over LBs when squared up, and he’ll pancake DL on double teams, but those are situations where he can throw around his weight. In driving scenarios (ex. uprooting a DT 1-on-1 in short yardage), Nabou hasn’t quite developed the strength to win those match. Instead, Nabou has shown that he can win with positioning and by controlling his opponent with his upper body strength. These aren’t dominant wins, but this is really all you need to be effective as a run blocker in zone-based run schemes. It should also be said this is really just an analysis of where he’s at, and I’m confident that he’ll be a much more powerful blocker by the end of HS.
Nabou’s biggest physical limitation in college will be his lateral agility, in both pass protection and in run blocking. The few pass protection reps that were on tape showed issues being able to maintain position when moving laterally to mirror opposing pass rushers. Similar issues arose when making reach blocks in the run game. Similar to pass protection, Nabou struggled at times to get his body into position quickly enough to seal off the edge. Additionally, in HS, when he isn’t able to drive defenders out of the way, he has been able to get away with wrestling over matched defenders to the ground, or at least control them with “legal holding”. He won’t have as much of a strength advantage in college, and most DL will be able to work around this technique if he continues to let his feet and hips stay planted on-contact. Most of those deficiencies should be alleviated by moving to guard, where Nabou has the athletic profile to be dominant in both gap/power and inside zone schemes.
I took me a while come up with a good comp for Nabou from our current or recent line ups since we haven’t had a starter with quite the same playing style or athletic profile, but Nabou could end up being a Myles Murao-lite (although definitely not light). Its a bit of a reach to get to the Murao comp, but both he and Nabou are shorter/stockier HS OTs that project to the interior in college, both have flashed athleticism but not overwhelming power, and both have tendencies to over rely on upper body strength and high pad level. Murao’s HS development has gotten him much closer to being a college-ready technician than Nabou, but even being 80% of Murao by the end of his HS career would put Nabou in an upper tier of OL prospects. The faults in his technique are relatively straightforward and are to be expected from a young OL with tremendous physical gifts.
Long story short, based on his physical traits and development as a sophomore, I feel pretty confident that Nabou could become a multi-year contributor. He’ll have to continue to work on his S&C and pass protection technique if he wants to contend for early playing time, but he’s already shown me enough to convince me that he’s an above average athlete and scheme versatile enough that he won’t just be another depth filler or project prospect.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UWDP Recruiting Notebook series in the stream below, and feel free to leave a comment with suggestions of recruits you’d like to see next in the series.