Chabot College Offensive Coordinator Nick Goulet with NFA trained Chabot star quarterback Nick Goulet (photo by Harold Abend)
NFA Northern California Off-Season Development Camp April 25-27 at Chabot College in Hayward for sixth year
The reality is not all NFA trained quarterbacks, and the preponderance of talented high school players at all positions, receive a scholarship offer from a Division I college.
In fact, depending on the area of the country, well under 3-pecent of quarterbacks receive any kind of a Division I-level offer.
There are a variety of reasons why some players that appear to have the tools don’t get offered.
For those players that want to continue to play and work their way into a four-year school, they can choose the junior college level program, and nowhere is the Juco scene hotter than in California.
“Basically, everyone that ends up playing at a JC goes there for a different reason,” said Chabot College (Hayward) Offensive Coordinator Nick Goulet.
“For some its grades, others were passed over because they were too small, and for some it was their level of high school competition,” remarked the Livermore (Livermore, Calif.) graduate who’s been the Chabot offensive coordinator since 2007 under head coach Danny Calcagno.
Goulet, who also teaches health and physical education at nearby San Leandro High continued – “At the junior college level we give a player an opportunity to earn a scholarship by overcoming obstacles, get grades right, and drive themselves so they show they can play at a higher level. There are so many football programs there’s a spot for almost everyone.”
Success at Chabot
Even so, just going to a JC doesn’t guarantee a shot for a scholarship to a four-year school.
If a student-athlete had the tools but lacked the grades they still have to continue to improve both to move on to the next level.
It also helps to have good coaching. Although it took a few years, Chabot, with Calcagno at the helm and Goulet drawing up plays from a spread option offense, has won three-straight Golden Gate Conference Central Division championships for the first time in school history.
“We’ve had more talented teams but this team got better each week,” Goulet remarked. “It’s a testament to having a great group of kids.”
Prior to the NFA Northern California Off-Season Development Camp April 25-27 at Chabot, NFA Nation made a trek to an afternoon practice in Hayward to watch Goulet put the Gladiator offense through its paces.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Go again. You should always be here,” Goulet tells the quarterback as he points to where he wants him.
“Good, better, better. Stay square,” he tells the tailback about turning the corner.”
The way Goulet interacts with the players is visibly different than the approach to coaching boys. He has to talk to and treat them as men even as he barks out directions while putting them through the drills.
“It’s different than high school where you get them as freshmen,” Goulet told NFA Nation. “You’ve got to treat them as men. That’s what it’s all about.”
“Sometime it’s really difficult with quarterbacks. You get four different quarterbacks from four different systems. You have to break them down and build them back up and teach the way you want them to play.”
So Coach Goulet what has been the key to the recent success at Chabot?
“First off, we’re in a hotbed of JC football here in Northern California and the Bay Area, but some of the reasons our program is better than others is we develop our guys, help them get stronger in the weight room and we stress grades. The grades are a bigger piece of the puzzle than anything else.”
Players move on
The resulting fruits of the recipe used by the coaching staff at Chabot is sending eight players on to a Division I school next fall and around 12-15 will move on somewhere at the next level.
According to Goulet, over the past three years, close to 50 young men have moved on to complete their careers and education at a four-year school.
The eight D1 players this year are:
OL – Will Fukofuka (Midwestern State), WR T.J. Hightower (Florida Tech), DB – Eddie Horn (Northern Arizona), LB – Josh Jacinin (South Dakota Mines), QB – Zach Lujan (South Dakota State), WR – Stefon Martin (Incarnate Word), LB – Mia Pola (Northern Michigan), DB – Michael Thomas (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo).
Poster child Lujan becomes a man
For NFA and for Chabot as well, a huge success is quarterback Lujan.
When he arrived at Chabot from South Anchorage (Alaska) last year Lujan was a perfect example of all the reasons why he was not offered D1, despite the fact he had been working with NFA Director of Player Development Will Hewlett, and attending NFA camps for a while.
Zach was 6-foot, 175-pounds and he was from Alaska, where South Anchorage is pretty good but there was a question of the level of competition.
“Zach really needed a year of junior college to grow and mature,” Hewlett said. “He’s very intelligent with Ivy League like academics. After his junior year in high school we tried to use his film and grades to get him an opportunity at a high level, but it ended up out of high school he was projected as D2, so he had an opportunity to go to Juco where he really raised his level.”
He also grew two inches and after the Chabot weight training and fitness regimen headed by coach Eric Fanane he’s going on to South Dakota State after leading the Gladiators to that third-straight title, at 6-2, 195, an obvious sign as Hewlett remarks “the experience allowed him to mature physically and mentally. He stepped in and took the bull by the horns.”
“While I was working with Will he suggested I consider Juco, and I was attending the NFA Off-Season Development Camp at Chabot, and I did like it at Chabot, but it didn’t key in,” Lujan told NFA Nation.
“My dad talked to coach Goulet, and then later when Chabot came up again I put two-and-two together.”
“Zach contacted us to find out what we do,” Goulet said.
After he found out, and knowing how the spread offense at Chabot would fit his style Zach made the move.
His capacity to escape in the pocket and play making abilities was a big part of the Gladiators title streak continuing.
NFA and Hewlett/Lujan connection
“I started looking for quarterback camps in 2012 and in my research NFA kept coming up,” Lujan said. “There was a camp in Seattle and that was the closest to Alaska so I went and Will was running the camp. I could see he was a great coach and we caught on instantly.”
With his coming to Chabot, which is about a half-hour drive from The Range training facility in Livermore where Hewlett is headquartered, has meant Lujan has been able to continue working with Hewlett the entire time he’s been in Northern California.
The weekend after the practice NFA attended Lujan went home to Anchorage and the interview for this story came via cell phone from Alaska. Shortly after it concluded the phone rank again and it was Zach with one final word.
“I wanted to be sure and get in the story that I’m still training with Will and I just want to let him know how grateful I am for everything he’s done for me.”
Hewlett/Goulet and the NFA Off-Season Development Camp connection
“I met Will through the clinic circuit and became interested in what they teach,” Goulet remarked. “I like how they teach and it makes sense to me. It sends a clear message to the players, makes expectations clear, and eliminates the gray area. I like black and white.”
“I met Nick at a Glazier Clinic and he was inquiring about the R4 and C4 systems we use,” Hewlett said. “As I was talking to him about the systems I said to him ‘you’re local, would you like to host our camp?”
This year over 100 players will gather for the 3-day developmental camp at Chabot starting Friday, April 25 and concluding on Sunday.
“After NFA started holding the camps at Chabot I became football buddies with Will,” Goulet said.
“We’d meet and talk about how we coach quarterbacks, the techniques we use and how they could implement them into their system at Chabot,” said Hewlett.
Goulet still treks out to The Range on occasion to shoot the breeze with Hewlett, watch film and diagram plays on the big board.
“Nick has done about as good a job as anyone I’ve seen at implementing some of our techniques,” Hewlett remarked. “He’s a gifted and bright, young offensive coordinator, a rising star in the Juco ranks. He’s a football coach that’s going to coach at a higher level. Nick is going places.”
Not only can the Juco road lead to golden opportunities for players, but possibly for coaches as well.