Of all the football prospects from Kauai, none shine as brightly as 16-year-old Saint Louis School senior Nate Herbig.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 320-pound offensive lineman was offered to play college football from nine schools, with Stanford being the latest to offer the Kalaheo native a scholarship this past weekend at the GPA Maximum Exposure Football Camp on Oahu.
“It’s every kid’s dream to get all those offers,” he said. “I got to go out and compete with the best in the country. I’m assuming I did well because I walked away with an offer from Stanford. It was just an amazing experience and opportunity for me.”
Herbig is expected to announce where he will play college football on KHON2 at 6 tonight.
The son of Bruce and Robyn Herbig of Kalaheo played for Kauai High his first two years of high school and led the Red Raiders to the division II state championship game his sophomore year. With his last year of high school football approaching, Herbig said one of his goals is to win a state title.
“We made it all the way and we were just a touchdown and a field goal away from tying the game,” he said. “It scarred me, and I always wanted to win a state championship.”
Herbig wanted to challenge himself academically and athletically and transferred to Oahu his junior year, where he impressed Saint Louis football Head Coach Cal Lee.
“The thing I really like about him (is) he works hard,” Lee said. “Not only his size, but I think his heart is big. He loves the game of football. He’s a perfect example of someone who keeps pushing and pushing himself to get bigger, faster, stronger. It pays off. It really did.”
Lee said on the field Herbig is aggressive.
“Off the field he’s just a mild-mannered, quiet-kind-of guy that doesn’t push anybody around,” he said. “He’s just a nice, nice kid.”
Herbig also excels academically.
“(My parents) always told me that football is just a sport,” he said. “It doesn’t last forever, so I always got it done in the classroom, having a higher GPA — a 3.6 — because I know any day football can end. If you don’t have the grade, and a lot of players rely on athletic ability, you’re not going to go anywhere.”
Bruce Herbig said when it comes to academics, it’s a non-negotiable issue with Nate and his siblings.
“You work first and play later,” he said. “We try to instill that in all our boys. You take care of business first and you work hard and you play hard.”
Lee said Herbig has great football ability and is strong academically, which will help him succeed in college.
“College is like that,” he said. “We all want to win football games. We also want them to go to onto college and pursue a degree, and I think he has all the attributes that you need to be successful — not only on the field but off the field as well.”
Brian Derby, former offensive-line coach for Kapaa High school, said Herbig has his priorities in line.
“This kid is special,” he said. “If he sticks with it — in the classroom and his workouts — he’s gonna go to places.”
Last year, Herbig flew from Kauai to Oahu every weekend for five months straight — not missing a beat — to attend Derby’s football camp.
“If this kid took the time to fly to Kauai here — I no care rain, hail, tornado — I’m going to work with this kid,” he said. “That showed me that he was very hungry and fierce about my camp.”
Derby said Herbig’s learning ability coupled with his work ethic made him unique from other prospects outside of Oahu.
“A lot of times when kids come from the outer islands they’re not really up to speed with what we’re doing in this camp, but this kid came in with an open mind,” he said. “He picked up so fast and learned everything we did so quickly. His work ethic is like one of the top kids in the state, top kids in the country. It’s a different breed.”
Lee said Herbig’s a leader who inspires his teammates.
“He’s not very vocal, but I think his performance, how he goes at practice, the determination, the energy that he has, people look at that and they like that,” he said. “It just pushes them. They see someone with his ability working hard, and (it) gives the other kids the energy to do the same thing.”
It hasn’t been easy for Herbig. When he was younger, he said he was always too big to play football with children his age. He got his first start at 13 with Kauai Youth Football.
“(KYF) really gave me the opportunity to get my first opportunity,” he said. “From there I played a few years, played about four seasons in middle school and transitioned right over to high school at Kauai High.”
Growing up, Bruce said Nate constantly played sports with his cousins.
“We grew up next to his cousins and there’s about nine of them over here on our property,” he said. “Every day after school especially on weekends and summer breaks, they’re out there and we play countless games of flag football, touch football, kick ball, basketball, baseball — you name it.”
Outside of football, Herbig said he loves working out and playing basketball with his friends.
“I don’t have much free time anymore because I’m getting ready for my last season of high school football and getting my body ready for college,” he said.
Herbig said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of people from Kauai.
“I wanna thank everyone on Kauai who led up to this point of my life and impacted me one way or another,” he said. Thank you for all this support. Kauai will always be my home.”
Favorite food: teriyaki fried chicken from Da Imu Hut
Favorite subjects: religion and English
Favorite teacher: Chris Doyle, religion teacher
Future aspirations: starting a business
Hobbies: working out, going to the movies, playing basketball, going to the beach and hanging out with friends in Hanamaulu
Schools offering football scholarships: San Diego State, Washington State, Oregon State, Texas Tech, Hawaii, UNLV, Cal, Colorado, Stanford