Offensive tackle David Nobles doesn’t cave to pressure on or off the football field.
Nobles, a 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound left tackle, parlayed his exceptional skill into a scholarship at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. He officially signed NAIA grant-in-aid papers at the school Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony in the Little Theater.
“They came down for spring practice and stuck with me ever since,” Nobles said. “They really wanted me to come up there and when I visited up there I just felt it’s where I needed to be. I’m looking forward to being a part of that program.”
Lindsey Wilson is a four-year school founded in 1903 that became a four-year school in 1986. The Blue Raiders compete in the Mid-South Conference, a league Ooltewah head coach Mac Bryan coached in for four years while at Pikeville.
The Blue Raiders dropped football after the 1935 season, but after a 75-year hiatus restarted the program in 2010. Since then they have posted records of 5-6, 7-3, 3-8 and 8-3 – the school’s first eight-win season – in 2013. Lindsey Wilson was ranked 19th nationally in the NAIA coaches’ Top 25 poll this past season, scored a school-record 426 points and averaged 38.7 points per game, another school single-season mark.
“I know it’s a fairly new program, but all they’ve done is get better every year,” Nobles said, “and I’m looking forward to helping them get to where they need to be.”
After making his mark as an offensive tackle, Nobles said he fully expects to play defensive end with the Blue Raiders, who are coached by Chris Oliver.
And he takes on that duty having previous experience at the position.
“I played defensive end all my life until my sophomore year in high school,” Nobles said. “I played out of position a lot in high school and I’ll be playing defense in college. I take pride in what I do. If they put me on defense, I’ll do whatever needs to be done to help the team.”
Lindsey Wilson coaches saw Nobles play defense in the Tennessee East-West All-Star game in Cookeville, Tenn., in December and also got film of that game to study further. He did play some defense this past season as a fill-in for players on the Owls’ injured list.
“He did play some over there,” Bryan said. “Not a lot because I simply had to have him on offense. I can certainly see him coming off the edge and rushing the passer in that league up there.”
Nobles said Lindsey Wilson coaches talked to him about playing defense from the time they began recruiting him.
“They had several different positions in mind for me,” he said. “They talked about offensive line, maybe some tight end, but they always had defensive end in the conversation.”
Bryan, who left Austin Peay as an offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator to take the Ooltewah job prior to the 2013 season after Shannon Williams left for a coaching position in Florida, hates to part ways with Nobles.
Nobles was rock solid on the Owls’ offensive line and the primary protector for quarterback Brody Binder, who has signed a baseball scholarship to Troy University.
And more often than not the Owls’ rushing attack was directed to Nobles’ side as well.
“We could always go left behind David anytime we wanted to,” Bryan said. “His was very physically dominating over there. He’s only about 230 pounds but is so explosive, fast, strong and runs so well. In terms of pass protection, we never even had pressure on his side. He’s a tremendous pass protector.
“We’re going to miss him a lot and it will be hard to replace what he did for us.”
Nobles arrived at Ooltewah High as a skinny 155-pounder, but leaves as a 235-pound frame, and he credits much of that to extensive work in the weight room.
“You can’t keep me out of there,” he said.
Nobles said Williams and Bryan played key roles in him receiving the Lindsey Wilson scholarship and thanked them both.
“Coach Williams helped me out and coach Bryan came in and polished me up,” he said. “Everybody at Ooltewah and my family and friends pushed me to where I am today.”
Nobles said he also considered Tusculum College, Kentucky Christian and East Tennessee State.
Division II schools can provide 36 scholarships while the limit is 25 of 26 for NAIA schools, Bryan said.
“The two levels are not that far apart,” he said. “David has a very nice package.”
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)