‘Culture was a driving factor’ in four-star DB Pola-Gates choosing Huskers
Late into one of the coldest nights of the winter in Nebraska, Noa Pola-Gates delivered a welcome shot of warmth to the Huskers from afar.
The consensus four-star defensive back announced his commitment to NU during the Polynesian Bowl on Saturday evening during the first quarter of play from Honolulu.
Pola-Gates, listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, is the latest top-priority prospect to join the Huskers’ 2019 class as head coach Scott Frost and company continue to land the players they put the most time and effort into recruiting during the cycle.
Shortly after Pola-Gates made the announcement, the Husker football Twitter account did the same, meaning Pola-Gates signed his National Letter of Intent back in December.
He kept the decision under wraps, though, and called Nebraska, USC and Arizona State his three stated finalists for the recent weeks. He also considered Alabama up until the December signing period.
In the end, the people at Nebraska made a difference.
“Culture was a driving factor,” he told the Journal Star earlier this week. “I felt it during my home visit and was surprised to feel it during my official.”
He was on campus when the Huskers logged their first win of the season in October against Minnesota. From that point on, NU was right in the mix.
“I like Coach Frost and respect what he’s doing at UNL and Coach Fish is my dude,” Pola-Gates said of defensive backs coach Travis Fisher. “Really love that guy.”
But he also had other options. The Sun Devils represented the hometown option. Pola-Gates has a cousin at USC and his uncle, future NFL Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, played there as well.
Pola-Gates’ mom, Amy, played a big role in helping her son make his final decision.
“My mom pretty much told me to follow my heart,” said Pola-Gates, who added that she had him put together “vision boards” to help evaluate each school. “She guided me the whole time and researched different things about each school and we would talk about it. She’s a beast when it comes to her kids. Anybody that was recruiting me can tell you. Mama don’t play. My dad and my brother and sisters are supportive no matter what I decide but everybody had a favorite school.”
In the end, Nebraska won out.
In early January, Pola-Gates spent a week at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio alongside three of his future teammates in signed NU all-purpose back Wandale Robinson, offensive lineman Bryce Benhart and defensive lineman Ty Robinson.
Ty Robinson is also from Gilbert and the two played for rival schools the past four years: Pola-Gates for Williams Field and Robinson for Higley.
“I always knew of him but never talked with him,” Pola-Gates said of Robinson, his roommate for the week at the All-American Bowl. “We finally met off the field at our official visit for Alabama (for the Iron Bowl). He’s good people. We also won awards at a big-time event in (Arizona) and got to talk there, too, but really clicked in San Antonio.
“Bryce is a giant and real cool. He was recruiting me the whole time. Wandale and I met on the field, if y’all watched the game, you saw how we met.”
Indeed, Pola-Gates put a punishing hit on the highly touted Husker back, momentarily shaking both of them up after Robinson hauled in a pass up the seam. The two shared a quick hug, finished the game and Robinson tweeted afterward, “told (Noa) he has to come to Nebraska for that hit.”
By Rivals’ player rankings, Pola-Gates follows only the two Robinsons as the most decorated members of Nebraska’s 2019 class. That service considers him the No. 116 player overall in the nation and No. 11 safety prospect, while 247Sports pegs him as the No. 154 player overall and the No. 18 cornerback.
That in and of itself speaks to the Williams Field High standout’s versatility, which Husker secondary coach Travis Fisher covets. It’s apparent on the field, too. Pola-Gates played safety during his week in early January at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He might just get a chance to start his career at corner in Lincoln.
That will all crystalize once he arrives on campus this summer and begins his career as a Husker.
“College can’t come soon enough, I’m ready to get going,” Pola-Gates said.
Pola-Gates is the 26th known member of the Huskers’ 2019 class and the fourth defensive back, joining signees Myles Farmer (Atlanta), Javin Wright (Chandler, Arizona) and Quinton Newsome (Suwanee, Georgia). He is the third class member from Arizona, more than any state but Nebraska (five) and Georgia (four).
Nebraska has a maximum of four spots remaining in its 2019 class, including any potential offseason transfer addition.