The Midshipmen have developed a tradition of exceptional linebacker play over the course of the last seven seasons, with names such as Lane Jackson, Rob Caldwell, and Ross Pospisil playing major roles in the program’s ascendance to service academy football dominance.
At six-foot, two-inches tall and weighing in at 215-pounds, former Great Valley (PA) linebacker John Michael Nurthen hopes to carry on that tradition and bring his hard-nosed, ‘throwback’ mentality to the gridiron of Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this fall. I recently caught up with the former All-Area standout, who told me about his plans for his freshmen year at Navy and beyond.
Did you attend the Blue and Gold Game in Annapolis? If so, how was your experience? Have you met any of your future Navy teammates yet?
No, I wanted to but I wasn’t able to go. I play baseball in the spring and I had a game that same night.
What kind of interest were you getting from other schools? Did you have any other scholarship offers? What made you choose to commit to being a Midshipman?
When I chose Navy my decision came down between the Midshipmen, Princeton, and Cornell. I visited all three, but I've always had the dream of attending the Naval Academy and I feel that when blessed with that kind of an opportunity, you can't possibly let it go. I had a few other FCS offers like Holy cross and Lehigh, and VMI even offered me a scholarship; but Navy was by far the best program. I wanted to be part of the ‘brotherhood.’
You played fullback and linebacker in high school. Which position did Navy recruit you to play in college? Which coach recruited you? Did he let you know how you will fit into the scheme at Navy?
Navy recruited me to play linebacker, and I was recruited by Coach Dale Pehrson, who coaches the defensive line. I've been told that I will begin by playing inside linebacker in the defensive scheme.
What do you think your greatest strengths are as a football player? Are there any specific college athletes – whether they are Navy players or guys from other schools – who you try to model your game after or think that you compare to?
I feel that my quickness and speed has helped me greatly as a football player, but I think my biggest strength is my intensity and heart. I will do anything to beat the guy across from me. I love the ‘throwbacks’ in football; guys like Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus. My dad grew up playing the old fashion "eat nails and drink muddy water" type of football and I feel that is the only way football should be played, and the way I try to play it.
I saw an article which pegged you as one of the