Oklahoma found themselves a gem from the Tarheel State when they landed two-sport athlete James Nesta earlier this week.
It’s a win for Oklahoma on the gridiron as they landed their first linebacker of the 2024 class. Nesta has exceptional versatility where he can play in space as an off-ball linebacker or rush the passer off the edge. He stands 6-foot-4 and could be a candidate to play cheetah in Brent Venables’ system.
As a junior last fall, Nesta was credited with 41 tackles, including 13 for loss and nine sacks. He also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The draw of learning from Brent Venables helped the talented four-star linebacker choose OU over UNC and Miami. It wasn’t his only reason for picking Oklahoma, though.
Nesta’s ability on the diamond is special in its own right. Nesta has played baseball virtually his whole life. For his high school and travel ball teams, he pitches and plays in the outfield. Nesta’s value to the Oklahoma baseball program over the next three years will be because of his right arm. Perfect Game named Nesta a preseason underclassman second-team All-American for the summer baseball circuit. The Oklahoma commit plans to battle with his South Charlotte Panthers squad this summer.
Nesta has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 94 MPH. That’s incredibly impressive for a high school pitcher heading into his senior year. It’s something that head baseball coach Skip Johnson and his staff will dream of all summer. His fastball’s velocity will improve with dedicated time in two different strength and conditioning programs, along with his body maturing with age.
Nesta also features promising offspeed offerings that will also continue to improve. Lowering his arm angle would help with his command, which he’s worked on diligently over the last year. Oklahoma’s pitching was a significant thorn in their side in 2023. Johnson has already added to his staff with the transfer commitment of Jace Miner from Wichita State, so adding Nesta feels like a cherry on top.
If Nesta blossoms and shines as a pitcher, Venables may have to have some tough conversations. An arm with the possibility to throw triple digits is a money maker in the MLB and something many scouts will be monitoring going forward as Oklahoma enters the SEC next season. Either way, you slice it, Oklahoma athletics is better after having landed James Nesta. Now we wait and see how and where he shines brightest.