Malik Nabers on being dangerous after catch, his favorite routes, and creating himself in ‘Madden’

Since he was a child, former LSU wide receiver and potential top draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft Malik Nabers has been an avid gamer. Starting with Madden, Nabers used his play on the field to help him as a gamer, and vice versa. Nabers spoke with me over Zoom to talk about Call of Duty Warzone: Mobile, his love for video games, and the things he learned from his sophomore to junior season at LSU.

J.P. Acosta (JA): Malik, could you tell me what you’re doing with Call of Duty Warzone: Mobile?

Malik Nabers (MN): I’ve been doing this for a while with Call of Duty Warzone: Mobile. It’s an extended version of Call of Duty that you can play on your Playstation, XBox or PC, but this time it’s available on your phone. I’ve been using it while traveling to different teams and having meetings, so it’s always been good for me to have and keep updated on my phone.

JA: Are there a lot of Call of Duty players on the LSU football team? Did y’all have hangouts and play? If so, who’s the best Call of Duty player on the team not named Malik Nabers?

MN: You know, join in on a Call of Duty game, trying to play in all the big lobbies together so we can’t play on the same team all at once. So we try to make our own like little lobby to play in. Besides me, the best Call of Duty player on the team is probably [defensive back] Sage Ryan. We’re able to catch dubs pretty often.

JA: Now, I don’t want you to slander anyone, but who is the worst Call of Duty player on the team? The one guy you just absolutely can’t be on the same side as during the game?

MN: Let’s see…I’d probably say [backup quarterback] Garrett Nussmeier.

JA: So how do you think playing video games, especially outside of the locker room hasn’t helped the bonding between guys on the team?

MN: You don’t really get to see a lot of the guys on the defensive side of the ball, so when you’re able to, you know, play the game with each other, it creates that bond for sure. It’s been a good bonding experience because it shows teamwork, for sure. So you’re able to, you know, play with a lot of people around the world. I’ve met a lot of different players from a lot of different places and playing with them and my teammates has helped us bond a lot.

JA: Outside of Call of Duty, obviously, what has been the video game that you’ve played the most recently?

MN: I’d probably say MLB [The Show 24].

JA: Do you play Road to the Show or are you taking over an entire team?

MN: I play with the Dodgers. I’m Ohtani fan, so I like to play with Ohtani for sure. So you know, I’m always playing my friends you know, trying to you know, try to beat them.

JA: When you get to the NFL obviously they’re going to put you in Madden. Have you created yourself in Madden already? Are you going to go in when you’re in Madden and boost your stats to make you a 99 overall?

MN: Oh, you know, I’ve been doing that since a kid for sure. I’ve been making me cuz I used to when I used to play quarterback, I always used to make me a quarterback because I like to have the ball in my hands you know, throw it all over the place and scramble. So yeah, I’m gonna try to put my speed at 99, power at 99, catching at 99. I’m trying to put everything at 99.

JA: Are you hoping to get any celebrations that you do into the game?

MN: I’m hoping they put one of them in there for sure, because when I score my first touchdown I’m definitely hitting it.

JA: How do you think playing Madden and playing helped you and your ability on the field?

MN: I’d probably say that me playing on the field helped me win the game for sure. Because I know how to adjust different routes and know who’s going to be open. You know what the safeties are doing and stuff like that because you know, it’s different from you know, real life. On the game, you only got so many coverages that you can do, so it’s easy to pick players with different route concepts to run on the coverages.

JA: So want to take it to the field, talk about some of your on field success, especially at LSU. One of the biggest things I noticed from watching your game and watching you play is how explosive you are after the catch. You seemingly can turn a 10 yard catch into a big play at any time. How did you learned that ability? Or is it just kind of a natural, once I get the ball I’m turning into a running back with the ball in my hands, I’m trying to take it to the house.

MN: I’ll probably say when I got more comfortable with playing, my freshman year I was just so worried about you know, catching the ball and trying to stay healthy. But, you know, when I started playing more and more I started being comfortable with it. It was like second nature, like my Spidey Senses started, and being able to work a different juke move or just feel everybody around me, then it was easy to turn those ten yard routes into 30 yard explosive plays.

JA: When you watch your game from your sophomore year to your junior year, what would you say your biggest improvement was?

MN: I felt like my sophomore year, I had a lot of wasted motions going on, and I wasn’t able to make those explosive plays that I did this year. So I had a meeting with my [receivers] coach, and they told me if I want to be a first round receiver, all these little things I had to be able to do when I’m out there on the field, I had to show it, and show a different side of me. I had to be different. So they always told me this year you only get one wasted movement, you only get one move, you juke and then you go. You can’t keep juking around, you’re gonna stay in the same spot. So just having that preparation over the spring and summer, those guys staying on me and getting me to be that first round receiver. I’m happy to have those coaches in the back pushing me to try and be the best I can be.

JA: Are there any guys that are currently in in the NFL that you try to emulate your game after your style after?

MN: I feel like you know, we’re all different receivers, when they ask us about each other, you know, we all bring different things to the table. So there’s no person I model my game after.

JA: Can you talk a little bit about the competitive competitiveness with having a guy like Brian Thomas Jr. on the team with you and kind of having him push yourself to try and be better? I know LSU has a bunch of great receivers that are always coming in there guys that came before you, obviously. But how do you guys kind of maintain that level of competitiveness within that receiver room?

MN: The level of competitiveness that we’ve been going through, you know, our whole time we’ve been at LSU it’s only made us great by pushing each other. It wasn’t really no competition between me and him, but the competition was to, you know, in the receiving room, we try to bring the receivers along. So if me and Brian Thomas having a bad day, then it’s gonna cause the whole receiver room to have a bad day. So the level of competition between me and him got to stay at his highest peak, because any game it could have been anybody’s game, but when we on the same page, and our receiver group is moving as one, it causes the it causes our offense to be an explosive offense. So I when me and [Thomas Jr.] were on the same page in the game, it just caused, you know, the whole offense to be you know, more fluid and explosive.

JA: Alright, so one of the questions I’ve enjoyed asking draft prospects this year is you’re given three routes if you’re drawing up a playbook or an offense for Malik Nabers to be the best in. Give me three routes that you enjoy running the most.

MN: A box fade in the slot, a stop route from the slot, and I’ll probably say an out route from the slot. I can mix those around to make them all look the same.

JA: Last question for you, going back to Call of Duty: Mobile. You’re dropping in Battle Royale. Where is the place that you’re dropping? What’s your strategy?

MN: Living Quarters! So I’m gonna go to living quarters I’m gonna try to go to one of those little houses, I’m not going to the big house yet. I’m gonna try and land at the bottom and get me a nice SMG gun. And then I’m pushing house to house. I’m pushing house to house until I get to the big house and then we try to clear that out. Then we go on to Military Base, or we go to Control Room and we just pick and decide where to go. Then we go to the Prison, and after that we try to take everybody out, get on top. And let’s see where everybody else at.

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