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Kai Nunley is absolute power and spunk.
That’s exactly how Vacaville Christian head coach Manny Tarango describes Nunley, a sophomore running back and linebacker who has dazzled every step of the way early in his high school career. Not only is a beast on the field, but in the weight room he is full throttle, and as a person, he’s just one of those guys everyone loves to be around.
“Kai is one of those kids that’s always dancing,” Tarango said. “He’s always singing. He’s just happy about being at football, and the kid just PRd a 505 deadlift. He is thick. He’s got a very short powerful lower body. He’s committed himself to the weight room. His 40 time is increased.”
But, before Nunley ever arrived at Vacaville Christian, he was not ready to make himself a Falcon.
At least, not when he first heard the news.
Nunley’s mother originally wanted him to go to VCS, but when Nunley heard those words, he thought she was joking. Yet she was serious, and Nunley didn’t know what to say at that exact moment.
“I cried that day, but when I came here I was like this is a really good team,” Nunley said. “This is much better. Because we actually knew each other, and I can just tell we can get along. I know these people. I know they’re good people. They don’t care about themselves. They care about their teammates. They care about each other.
“We’re family. We’re a really good family. We’re trying to help each other out. We really are. We try our best to make sure one of us goes to college or one of us gets out of here because that’s our main goal is just to go out. We’re just trying to go places, go far, wherever we can.”
As part of the Falcon family, Nunley has been unstoppable, even as a freshman playing up against the biggest and the best at the varsity level.
Nunley came in right away and shined at VCS, pioneering what was a remarkable turnaround in a two-year span under Tarango. He ran for 805 yards – the second-most on the roster behind then-senior Tamani Williams, who signed his letter of intent to play collegiately at Valley City State University in North Dakota – and six touchdowns, alongside the third-most tackles on the team (112).
That incredible production lifted Nunley into all-metro and all-region honors on both sides of the ball and showed how profound his impact has been for this surging Falcons program, which went 1-9 the year before Nunley arrived and boosted that record to 7-5 and a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII semifinals his first year on campus.
“That kid puts the mouthpiece and he’s just like, ‘Let’s go,’ like Ezekiel Elliott,” Tarango said. “He kind of rolls the jersey up to expose the abs and he’s just giving you the spoon feed, like, ‘Keep feeding me. Let’s go.’ And he’s running to the ball when we’re doing tempo drills, and he’s like faster, faster, faster.”
What remains a scary thought is Nunley has only beefed up and improved in every regard during this offseason.
He’s deadlifting 500-plus pounds. His 40-yard dash time is down 0.2 seconds, all the way from a 4.9 to a 4.7 – Nunley ran a 4.72 at the Routes vs. Coverage Showcase earlier this month.
“He’s completely transformed his legs,” Tarango said. “He’s just thicker. He’s stronger. He’s gotten faster, and he’s only 15. And I think he just loves football, and it just comes naturally to him. Because that comes natural, it allows us as coaches to focus on your blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield because I can’t teach you your body. You know your body. You know how to run people over. That’s what you do.”
Tarango envisions Nunley to become one of the top recruits in the region by the time he’s a junior, and Nunley is eager to make those college dreams come true and get to the next level.
“Open to all offers, but it would be a life changer,” Nunley said. “If I got an offer or something, or if one of my teammates got an offer, it would be good. It would affect us. It really would because then we’d all be hyped. We would all be hyped up. We would all be going hard because we got eyes on us.”
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