Naijiel Hale (@YoungNateDogg) is one of the top cornerbacks in the state of California. His late father was one of the top hip-hop artists to ever grace the mic. At 5-11, the senior from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, CA and son of Nate Dogg, had 53 total tackles last year season and has 23 tackles for his school this season.
Hale, a top-30 corner according to Rivals and ESPN was sought after by many PAC-12 schools before committing to the University of Arizona in July. “It’s just a relief to just commit and actually like where I’m going and to be locked in with a school,” Hale told TDdaily by phone.
Last season, Hale’s Braves squad lost 13-10 in the CIF Southern Section semifinals to Long Beach Poly High School. With the commitment in hand and the loss behind him, Hale is excited that the 5-0 Braves get another shot at a championship in his senior year. “Last year, we fell short in the semifinals but this year it’s just great for me to be focused on the season—we can go real far this year.”
Hale says that watching his father’s work ethic is the reason why he has been a successful high school football player. “Growing up I always just focused on him because of who he was, he was an icon and that’s who I wanted to be growing up,” he says. “So I focused on him and had seen how he worked and how he did things and I just learned from that.”
The artist formely known as Snoop Dogg (and now Snoop Lion) was a big football influence for Hale. “He told my mom to allow me to play football,” said Hale.
Uncle Snoop has scouting talent?
“I was a basketball player—then in my first year of football, I played under him and ever since then I’ve been playing for him until I got to high school.”
Hale had three tackles and one deflection in a 73-35 win last Friday over Crenshaw High School, and evidently the sports gene runs in his family. According to Naijiel, Nate Dogg was a force to be reckoned with at Long Beach Poly high school. “He always told me he was a receiver but I ended up talking to Snoop a couple of days ago, he was a lineman,” says Hale. “He was D-lineman but he was a beast though.”
Coming from hip-hop royalty, one can’t help but wonder what tracks Naijiel bumps in his headphones before big games like the one St. John Bosco has in November against 5-0 football powerhouse Mater Dei from Santa Ana.
“I bump Chief Keef honestly,” Naijiel says.
What? No Kendrick Lamar?
“I play some Kendrick maybe before the game, maybe a couple of hours before but not right before,” he said. “I get that to ease my mind maybe during team meals or something and then when I’m starting to get ready I got to put on that Chief Keef.”
Look out for Hale during the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl January 4, 2014 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson is a TDdaily contributor. Follow him on Twitter @ScoopB.