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Monday, December 4, 2023


New football recruit says offense will have ‘defensive coordinators scared’

In his first full off season as head football coach, Dana Holgorsen has begun recruiting players to Houston like speedster Nathaniel Dell. | File Photo

In his first full off season as head football coach, Dana Holgorsen has begun recruiting players to Houston like speedster Nathaniel Dell. | File Photo

Speed kills.

The more a football team has of it, the more likely it is to win. With the return of wide receiver Marquez Stevenson, Houston has speed.

Now, the team has more.

On Dec. 18, the Cougars added 15 players to their roster including a speed merchant to pair up alongside Stevenson: Independence (Kansas) Community College product receiver Nathaniel Dell, who has 4.3 40-yard-dash speed, as he said in a phone interview. 

Dell answers coach Dana Holgorsen’s call for speed on offense.

“He can really fly,” Holgorsen said. “We wanted speed. We needed more speed. We got it with him.”

Dell, a Daytona Beach, Fla. native turned Alabama A&M receiver turned community college standout, did not take the traditional path to Houston.

At one point, he considered playing in Florida. South Florida scouted him heavily, but his heart turned to Houston, a new territory that he feels comfortable in, largely due to receivers coach Tyron Carrier, a former UH standout receiver.

“At first, I wanted to go home and play,” Dell said. “Then I went to Houston. Coach Carrier hit me up, we built that relationship, and I gravitated towards him. Then I went to the campus and I gravitated towards Houston.”

Carrier once dominated the competition at Houston. Though undersized, he had the “dog mentality,” as Dell says. The new-UH receiver comes in with the same attitude.

Often overlooked for his 5-foot-10-inch, 155-pound frame, Dell comes to Houston with an attitude that more than compensates for his size, similar to Carrier.

“You have to have the dog in you,” Dell said. “No matter what people say, you are going to have people that doubt you your whole life, so you just got to prove them wrong.”

Houston did not overlook Dell.

“Coach Holgorsen, he’s a very special coach,” Dell said. “He coached guys my size… he doesn’t have a problem having a smaller guy. As long as they can make it happen on the field.”

With speed, fleet-feet and refined route-running, he made his mark as one of JUCO’s best. 

He tallied 52 receptions for 766 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019.

“I’m an all-around player,” Dell said. “My route-running is great. I workout with NFL players and stuff like that so my route-running is great, but, once the ball is in my hands, I know what to do with it.”

Dell spends much of his free time honing his craft, often with Atlanta Falcons standout receiver Calvin Ridley. Like Ridley, his production stems from his footwork, speed and attention to detail in route stems. 

Size doesn’t matter when one can get around defenders in a flash.

“They say I’m small,” Dell said. “I tell them God blessed us all with our own ability. Bigger guys got blessed with being big. I got blessed with my speed. If you’re bigger, I know I can get past you with my speed and my shiftiness.”

Dell plans on playing all over the field in Houston. His route-tree and speed will allow him to do so — he can get open. 

“I like to run slants, posts, but I just run anything,” he said. “I like to run a lot of things. It doesn’t matter to me. I know how to get open.”

Houston’s offense thrives with speed on-field. Holgorsen’s Air Raid-style scheme sets players up in space to do damage after the catch. The focal point for receivers is quick releases and equally-as-quick route-running.

The Cougars project to have their fair share of speed with Dell on the field. He will join Stevenson and an athletic receiving corps. 

Throw-in incendiary quarterback D’Eriq King, a plethora of powerful backs that will draw-in secondary-level defenders and defensive coordinators may have headaches.

“It’s going to be special,” Dell said. “We are going to have the defensive coordinators scared… I feel like defensive coordinators are going to come in again and have to coach their best game. D’Eriq King can go to the house like that, so can Stevenson and same for me. Then we have powerful backs… It’s going to be explosive.”

Dell will join the program in January. He will have three years of eligibility. His plan: make a mark from day one.

“Starting from spring ball,” Dell said. “I want to prove that I can play at a high level.”

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