Speedy Noil running his way through Commanders training camp
By Cole Thompson, San Antonio Commanders Team Reporter
SAN ANTONIO — Devanté Noil is quiet as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Instead of trash talking the defender, he’d rather let his footwork speak for himself. Breaking upfield, the former Texas A&M wide receiver jukes the defender out of his way and hauls in another reception for the San Antonio Commanders.
In a live game, that catch would have led to a touchdown.
Noil’s journey to The Alliance is similar to that of other players. After electing to leave school for the draft, he would go undrafted and sign a contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Nicknamed “Speedy” for his quickness on pass routes, Noil came up short in his quest to make Seattle’s final 53-man roster and was waived after the team’s rookie camp in May.
Instead of hanging up the cleats, Noil elected to take his talents north to the Canadian Football League, signing with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2017.
“The great thing about that was they gave me an opportunity,” Noil said. “The biggest lesson overall was I actually learned that there was another league out. I honestly never knew about the CFL and my ultimate goal was the NFL my whole life so going there helped me out a ton.”
A former five-star recruit, the New Orleans, La., native was expected to become the next big thing when he committed to Texas A&M. His speed made him dangerous but the offensive scheme limited his production. In three seasons with the Aggies, Noil would collect just 88 receptions for 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns.
Before joining the Aggies, Noil was a quarterback for Edna Karr High School. When lining up under center, the 5-foot-11 gunslinger demanded perfection from his receivers in order to keep offensive drives alive. Following practice, Noil would work with his receiving unit, running clean, crisp routes in the open field in order to build a rhythm.
Now, a receiver himself, Noil goes through the same drills with his quarterbacks following every Commanders’ practice.
“My main focus is structure,” Noil said. “Not just in football, but also in life. As a receiver, I’m an artist. I love the architecture of buildings and the foundation that goes into it. My biggest focus when running routes is making sure the quarterback doesn’t have anything to say about my routes. I need to be on point.”
Through every drill, Noil is a perfectionist. If the route is not clean in his eye, he will ask to run it again. Quickness will allow Noil to use his gift against defenders, but perfection will advance him to the next level.
“The kid is athletic, no question,” wide receivers coach Keith Williams said. “He’s big, explosive, dangerous. I knew what kind of athlete he was back in New Orleans and what kind of player he was then. He’s showing those exact characteristics now.”
Returning to the NFL is a goal for Noil but so is his education. Balancing football while taking classes back at Texas A&M, the young receiver is working hard to make both dreams a reality. Education will come first now as his degree is something that can never be taken away.
As Noil looks to make the Commanders’ roster, his priorities are finally set. Still considering himself a longshot, perfection and speed should keep his dream to return to the league a potential reality.
“I’m not here to prove anything to myself,” Noil said. “I’m proving to my family that we have it in our genes to actually execute our dreams and finish what we started.”