Fifth in a series of stories profiling top high school football players by position. Today Nick Fernandez, San Pedro tight end.
Born and raised in San Pedro, Nick Fernandez didn’t play football until he showed up for his freshman year of high school in 2019 and was named to the junior varsity team.
Coaches tried him out at running back first, but he was 6ft 2 and taller than some linemen. It was decided tight end would be his position.
When he made a one-handed catch earlier this season and ran more than 50 yards for his first touchdown, the thrill, excitement and genuine love for what he was doing was etched in his memory. Oh, he also played basketball and baseball, but football was different.
“I fell in love with the sport,” he said. “When I was little I wanted to be a professional soccer player, but as you can see, I’m not built like a soccer player anymore.”
At 6-4 and 250 pounds, the 17-year-old senior at San Pedro High has the kind of size and athleticism that will remind City Section observers of what Arlis Boardingham achieved for city champions Lake Balboa Birmingham last season. Boardingham did everything for the Patriots and Fernandez is brought on for the Pirates.
He’s a tight end who will play a small wildcat quarterback. He is also an outstanding defender, throwing and scoring field goals. Considering he only played four games as a sophomore due to COVID-19 protocols, Fernandez is one of those untapped talents who’s starting to discover his limits. He is certainly willing to go where his mind and body take him.
“The more positions the better,” he said. “I love playing football. I don’t want to leave the field.”
His parents are both educators – his mother is a counselor at Wilmington Banning and his father is a fifth grade teacher. Perhaps that helps explain how Fernandez is loved by the adults he meets.
Take his advisor, Rina Young. She greeted visitors entering the campus and found that Fernandez was at the center of this story. She wouldn’t move the interviewer until she was sure her impressions of Fernandez were being heard loud and clear.
“He’ll have wonderful adult conversations,” she said. “He’s so friendly and so nice. He cares about other people. He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever met.”
Then you hear Fernandez talk about the meaning of “team” and you get what his advisor is talking about.
“It’s always a team game,” he said. “I love what I do.”
During the offseason, Fernandez became one of the most recruited athletes in City Section football, racking up more than 15 scholarship offers. It happened because every time recruiters came to campus, they learned about his skills, character, and grades.
There’s no telling if the tight end or the defensive line is Fernandez’s best position, but he’s become a weapon on offense with his catching and blocking.
“I didn’t realize how many hands it takes to block,” he said. “I always put them in and hit them. Now I use my head, my chest, my arms, use my legs and push them and twist them, use my size against it.
Receives and touchdowns are what he lives for.
“When I get the ball it’s like everything is black,” he said. “Me and a touchdown or me and the person in front of me. It is like a dream. Me and whoever is in front of me will be blown up or they will blow me up or I will do something crazy.”
Fernandez playing for his neighborhood school is something he appreciates. His mother graduated from San Pedro. His father graduated from San Pedro. His younger brother will go to San Pedro.
“There are nice people, there are funny people,” he said. “Everyone knows something. It’s a small big city. Whenever you go to the store, you meet someone you know.”
On Friday nights this fall, Fernandez will no doubt be the center of attention in a community that loves its sports teams.
Tight ends to watch
Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year, Comment
Robert Dixon, Simi Valley, 6-5, 220, Sr. Big body and big goal
Nick Fernandez, San Pedro, 6-4, 250, Sr. triple athlete is an up and coming prospect
Jose Frutos, JSerra, 6-0, 190, Sr. All-Trinity League honoree makes hard catches
Jamari Johnson, Inglewood, 6-5, 250, Sr. Louisville Commitment is a top athlete
Niko Lopez, Santa Margarita, 6-3, 210, Sr. Colorado State Commit makes catch after hard catch
Ryan McBride, West Torrance, 6-4, 240, Jr. Big aim with good hands
Trent Merriman, Corona del Mar, 6-2, 230, Sr. Great notes with versatility and agility
Spencer Shannon, Mater Dei, 6-7, 240, Sr. Texas commits, known for his blocking skills
Ryner Swanson, Laguna Beach, 6-4, 230, Jr. will be the No. 1 tight end of the 2024 class
Colton Yoos, Newbury Park, 6-4, 215, Sr. Has body and hands to make an impact
Morning: Seth Fao, defense attorney for Wilmington Banning.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/story/2022-08-12/nick-fernandez-san-pedro-high-tight-end-big-impact Prep football preview 2022: TE Nick Fernandez ready to make impact