It takes lots of sacrifices and dedication for any athlete to earn a college scholarship.
But there are different levels of sacrifice and dedication.
Burbank resident and former St. Francis Xavier School student Nathan Priestley is certainly not short on drive and determination.
Priestley has remained focused on getting a prestigious education, even if it means waking up earlier and getting home later than most teenagers.
He has remained focused even though he often finds himself sitting in some of the worst traffic jams Los Angeles has to offer just getting to and from school.
He has remained focused even though injuries have cut short a good portion of his high school sports career.
Priestley is now a senior and the starting quarterback at Loyola High School, an all-boys Jesuit school just a few miles west of Downtown Los Angeles.
Students who attend Loyola come from more than 200 zip codes around Southern California and face a rigorous academic curriculum that includes mandatory Physics for all freshmen. More than 20 boys from Burbank attended Loyola this past school year.
“During spring and summer workouts we have lifted at 6 a.m. three times a week,” Priestley said. I wake up at 4:45 a.m. and leave for school at 5:20 a.m. Going to Loyola is a privilege, so school work comes first. I try to get some homework done at school during any breaks that I have during the day. Like all high school kids, I stay up late doing school work. I love the game of football, so going to school early and coming home late is just part of the game. Traffic is tough, but I just have to be patient and deal with it.”
At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Priestley is hoping to become Loyola’s first quarterback in nearly a decade to sign a national letter of intent with a Football Bowl Subdivision school, previously known as Division 1.
He has offers from Colorado State, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Montana State Universities.
Most have offered based upon the potential they see in Priestley, who didn’t play much during his sophomore and junior years because of injuries.
Last year he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. He has made a successful comeback following knee surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, whose patient list includes Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Clayton Kershaw.
Loyola Cubs quarterbacks coach Armin Youngblood, who has tutored a number of top quarterbacks including former UCLA star Josh Rosen, likes what he sees in Priestley.
“He has a really calm demeanor. He’s a good leader and I think what makes him special is that he sees the field really well. His ball delivery placement is pretty good. He’s pretty sharp in knowing his offense and knowing where to put his guys and help put them in position to be successful,” Youngblood said. “I know he’s gone through a couple of injuries, but he’s bounced back well. He’s worked very hard and now he’s healthy. I think he’s encouraged going forward to show himself. He knows he had a late start with recruitment but he just says it is what it is and I’m going to go forward and go for it. He has a winner’s attitude. That’s what I like about him.”
This summer Priestley, who also plays baseball for Loyola, has been to football camps at Pacific 12 Conference schools Oregon State, Colorado, and UCLA.
“I felt strong at (them) and I liked the feedback from the coaches to help improve my game,” said Priestley, who didn’t begin playing tackle football until he got to Loyola. “I enjoyed seeing the different campuses and programs and how different the cities are from Burbank.”
Priestley is hoping that he can be a late bloomer for recruiters looking to find a strong-armed quarterback.
“I am very open to colleges from the East to West Coast. The college will have to be the one I feel is the best fit with academics, coaching staff and teammates,” Priestley said of prospective universities. “I plan to visit the schools I have received offers from. Visiting the campus to understand the football program and the school facilities help me learn a lot. Colorado State had amazing football facilities and a great campus.”
Priestley is hoping that one local school will offer him.
“A local school I am interested in is UCLA. My dad, uncle, and aunt are all UCLA alumni and I have watched UCLA football games since I was a baby,” Priestley said.
If not UCLA, some college figures to be getting a great leader in Nathan Priestley, who said threw his first football experience was in the City of Burbank’s Park and Recreation flag football league.
A decade later, his growth, dedication, and maturation have made Nathan Priestley a name college coaches will definitely have their radar on.