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Early work leads to long-term dividends for Rooks

Nathan Rooks runs the 40-yard dash on Oct.. 28, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo
Nathan Rooks runs the 40-yard dash on Oct.. 28, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo

For St. Vincent de Paul sophomore linebacker/tight end/fullback Nathan Rooks, he points to his family and those near him in the game to get him to where he is today.

Rooks and his father have been around the game together since he started playing at 8 years old, whether that’s dissecting film, training or all of the other aspects that go into being a successful student-athlete.

“He’s been very helpful with me and just knowing my body and just working out with me and what to expect at gametime and helping me with film,” Rooks said. “Ever since I was in Pop Warner and also all my coaches before that, they’re just a big inspiration for me. I feel like that I could really go pretty far.”

In 2018, all of the hard work Rooks put in came to fruition, showing him just how high his ceiling was as a football player.

With his 14U team, Rooks’ squad won the championship – something never done before in the history of the school.

“I was like, ‘I think I could really be pretty good,’” Rooks said.

Once Rooks shifted into a high schooler at St. Vincent de Paul in 2019, the results showed immediately at the highest level of high school football.

During what became St. Vincent de Paul’s best season since 2012 – a 9-2 record, marking its most wins since it captured 10 wins and advanced to the section championship game in 2012 – Rooks tallied 31 tackles, four tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, one pass deflection and one forced fumble.

Those 31 tackles ranked third among North Coast Section freshmen, according to statistics available on MaxPreps, only behind Cardinal Newman’s Santino Acevedo (64) and St. Bernard’s Grant Omey (42). 

Since that special freshman campaign, Rooks’ St. Vincent de Paul teammates watched him take more strides during this extra-long offseason. 

“I’ve really spent a lot of time with him working out in the offseason, just lifting, lifting weights, just us two,” said St. Vincent de Paul sophomore lineman Cameron Vaughn. “Getting squats up. Literally doing squats. That’s all we do. We’d only have about one day because we’d have school, and it was just tough for us, but we’ve always found that one niche. We made that one oath that we would start working out at least once with each other every week, and we really stuck to it, and I’ve really seen me and him grow exponentially.”

What Rooks also placed an emphasis was his diet.

“I usually just kind of ate whatever I wanted, and I gained more than I should have,” Rooks said. “But recently I’ve been starting to eat right and starting to workout more, specifically like just maybe two or three times a week.”

Ahead of just his second year of high school, Rooks is looking to become a more effective player offensively and boost his communication skills defensively, along with gaining more recognition of opponents’ formations.

And he wants to bolster his profile and start to gain interest as a college football prospect.

“Just what motivates me to get up every day and to workout is just to see myself grow and mature and really how far can I take this,” Rooks said. “If this is an opportunity, I’m not just going to waste it and close the door. Maybe there’s other opportunities out there. I just really want to put my best foot on the table and see what I can accomplish.”

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