Set to play baseball in college, Kyle Nott wants to lead Jenison to first playoff berth since '03 before he's done with football
It's simply not part of Kyle Nott's nature to turn down a challenge.
The Jenison High senior three-sport star remembers playing in a summer travel team game in Georgia against the East Cobb Yankees, a vaunted program which has produced the likes of such current major leaguers as Dexter Fowler, Dansby Swanson, Buck Farmer, Daniel Norris and Gordon Beckham, when Nott was called on to display his amazing versatility.
Because of his team's needs all over the diamond, Nott wound up playing every position except pitcher and first base.
It's that versatility, not just in single game against a top travel team but as an athlete as a whole, which separates Nott from other athletes. In an age when specialization has become the norm, Nott refuses to narrow his interests. Not in an individual game and certainly not in athletics across the board.
“It's good because it makes you more of a threat. I love trying new things,” Nott said of being an All-O-K Red athlete in football, basketball and baseball. "The biggest thing for me is being a leader on the field. I love being the guy who takes control. It's who I am."
Nott doesn't just try new things, he excels. As a three-year starting quarterback who is on the verge of leading the Wildcats to their first playoff appearance since 2003, Nott recently surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards, including school-record 277 against Muskegon Reeths-Puffer earlier this season.
In baseball, where Nott recently committed to Central Michigan, he is a career .416 hitter in 259 at-bats. As a junior, Nott hit .411 with 19 stolen bases and 42 runs. As a catcher, he's thrown out an amazing 32 of 47 runners on attempted steals in three seasons..
The son of Grand Valley State sports information director Tim Nott, the younger Nott has been around sports his entire life, including playing travel ball at age 8. In fact, the Lakers were a handful of Division II teams which were interested in securing Nott to play two sports in college.
In the end, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound, left-handed hitting catcher decided baseball was foremost in his future. Michigan State, Iowa and Western Michigan also recruited him for baseball while a handful of GLIAC schools had him pegged for two sports. But Central Michigan is where Nott felt comfortable.
“I had some great opportunities to play football and baseball,” he said. “But I have certain goals and Central Michigan was a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up. It would have been good at Grand Valley, but Central Michigan is the best place for me.”
After earning nine varsity letters so far in three sports, Nott said there was never a time when he opted to drop a sport or two. Specialization, he said, was never an option.
"For me, I never wanted to focus on one sport," he said. "I think playing three sports has made me not only a better athlete, but a better person. I could never give up a sport."
Jenison baseball coach Tim Keur it's no secret why Nott has been so successful.
"He is an unbelievable player, one of the leaders on our team," Keur said. "He's an extremely hard worker. In the 14 years I've coached, he's the best athlete I've coached."
Nott said it won't be easy to put football behind him. The Wildcats started the season 4-1 and despite back-to-back losses to unbeatens Muskegon and Mona Shores the last two weeks, could still make the playoffs with wins over Grand Rapids Union and Kenowa Hills to close out the regular season. Jenison hasn't won six games in a season since 2002.
“I've always had a love for football,” said Nott, who was instrumental in the Wildcats scoring 42 points against a Mona Shores defense which had pitched three shutouts in its first five games. “It won't be easy to give it up. It's hard knowing this is going to be my last season.”
Jenison football coach Rob Zeitman, a former offensive coordinator at Kent State University, said Nott could have helped Mid-American Conference schools in two sports.
“They were crazy not to recruit him for both,” Zeitman said. "I don't care what sport it is, and it could be tiddlywinks, he is a competitor who gets after it. He doesn't care what his role is, he has a great understanding of the game. He's hip quick and an elusive runner.”
One of Nott's final goals as a football player would be to lead the Wildcats into the playoffs.
“Definitely,” he said. “It would be great for the school and the community. I've worked to make that happen and I think we can do it.”
(Photo courtesy of the Nott family)