BROADWAY — Whether it’s a monster dunk in transition on the basketball court or a big hit defensively on the field, Nate Tinnell has no problem hiding his excitement.
And while his roars throughout the game on Friday nights this season with the Broadway football team could be seen as a product of frustration from a winless season, the Gobblers junior receiver said he can assure you that it’s not even close to that.
“It’s something that comes kind of natural to me, to be honest,” Tinnell said. “I’ve always been a passionate player with both sports that I play. I play with a lot of emotion in everything I do and I let that be seen a little more sometimes than others, but that’s OK.”
It certainly has worked out well for Broadway and Tinnell both this season.
After serving as a ball boy growing up with his father, Will Tinnell, on the Gobblers coaching staff, Tinnell has now grown up slowly throughout the BHS football program.
“I’ve seen him grow a lot and not just in his height,” Gobblers quarterback Caleb Williams said. “His ability and his attitude has changed so much. He’s constantly working with guys, communicating with the team and just working hard. He’s improved so much and it’s been great to be a part of because we’ve been together so long.”
After opening eyes last year as a receiver, Tinnell has taken his game to a new level.
Offensively, Tinnell has continued to thrive and is one of the top receivers in the Valley District with 33 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, he leads the team with 54 tackles, including nine for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also has produced seven kickoff returns for 191 yards this season.
“Nate is a kid who I have a lot of love for,” Broadway first-year coach Danny Grogg said. “He’s been a part of this program for a long time. He was a ball boy for us when he was younger and now he’s a leader and captain for this team. He’s our rock. A lot of credit goes to his parents for how they raised him. He is just plain tough.”
While Tinnell’s toughness plays a role, his work ethic is another key to his success.
Throughout the offseason, Tinnell and Williams were often seen at BHS working on their game in both basketball and football as they emerged as leaders for both teams.
“He’s got this drive,” Williams said. “I don’t know what fuels him to keep going, but he just wants to prove everybody wrong. A lot of people talk about records and a lot of stuff, but we just like winning. We like knowing that we go out every night and leave it on the line. Seeing him mature so quickly is incredible to see. He’s relentless and wants to give it everything he has whenever he has the opportunity.”
Where that drive came from for Tinnell isn’t clear, but he said it’s pretty simple.
He has a passion for the two sports and that’s, quite simply, all he thinks about.
“I mean, it’s just what I like to do,” Tinnell said. “You know? They are two of the things I enjoy most in life and I figure why not do it as long as I can. That means playing in college, which means I have to put in a lot of work. I’m ready to keep doing that.”
At 6-foot-3, 182-pounds, Tinnell has serious potential of a future in both sports.
He said he doesn’t know which one he’ll end up focusing on because his favorite sport simply depends on which one he happens to be playing at that time of the year.
In football, however, his size and athleticism have set him apart from other receivers.
“It helps a lot, especially when the quarterback is in trouble,” Tinnell said of his size advantage against smaller defensive backs. “He can throw it up and he knows I have a chance to make a play on it because of my size, my hands. It helps a good bit.”
Quite honestly, it’s beneficial on both sides of the ball, according to his teammates.
His growth has established him as the Gobblers’ best player this season.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” Tinnell said. “Obviously this 0-8 start kind of humbled everybody a bit, brought everybody back down to earth from all the offseason hype. It’s just kind of showed us that there’s more to it than that.”
While the winless season may have helped Tinnell grow, it also improved his leadership.
Grogg said Tinnell is now a player Broadway “builds around on both sides of the ball.”
“I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes here,” Grogg said. “He will definitely leave his mark.”
As just a junior, there’s still a lot that Tinnell can accomplish in his Broadway career.
It’s unclear which sport he’ll eventually play in college at this point, but the Gobblers junior receiver can assure you he’ll continue to bring passion the rest of his career.
And for a Broadway program looking for some juice, that’s music to its ears.
“We have a lot coming back next year, a lot to be excited about,” Tinnell said. “People are definitely going to be looking down on us, like we’re not going to do much. But I feel like we’ll surprise a couple of people.”