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Journey to the Arena Dream: Ezekiel Noa, LB/FB, Rapid City Marshals

Updated at Mar 26, 2024

Ezekiel Noa’s football journey has not always been easy, but he’s stayed humble and determined to be the best football player and human he can be.

Ezekiel Noa’s football journey has not always been easy, but he’s stayed humble and determined to be the best football player and human he can be. Driven by his passion for the game and his faith, Noa is ready for his next chapter as he joins the Rapid City Marshals of the Arena Football League.

The Journey

Growing up in San Diego, Ezekiel Noa has been playing football since he was 6 years old. He took on tackle football right out of the gate, and many saw from an early age he was a menace on the field with versatility to play both sides of the field. Noa grew up playing linebacker, tight end, and running back. Fast forward to his high school years, Ezekiel keyed in as a linebacker and running back, playing all 4 years for Helix Charter High School. This is where he would meet coach Shon King who was the wide receiver’s coach at the time. During his junior year, offers to play at the next level started coming in - Washington State, Colorado, Wisconsin, San Diego State, and Boise State, to name a few. He held in-home visits with San Diego State and Boise State. He also made an official visit to Boise State and met with coach Bryan Harsin. During his senior year, the 3-star linebacker had all the Mountain West schools hoping to land his services. Helix was a powerhouse and heading into a championship run with Ezekiel patrolling the backfield. During their semi-final game, Noa tore his ACL, but despite his injury, the team went on to win the game. Unfortunately, they fell in the state championship.

Because of the injury, like most athletes entering the next stage in their career, colleges become worried about a player's future and usually back off recruiting. As such, teams stopped recruiting Noa. However, one school remained consistent: Boise State. Coach Harsin had full faith in Ezekiel.

“Boise never wavered and believed in me, it made it really easy for me to pick where I was going. I wanted to be somewhere new and I was excited for the new challenge. The campus was great, the people, the coaching staff, it was easy for me.”

Noa was a standout linebacker who, unfortunately, experienced more knee injuries while in college. He pushed through, however, and was one of the best linebackers in the Mountain West by his senior year. After college wrapped up, Noa had his pro day. It went well, well enough for the Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, to invite him to rookie minicamp. There, he spent five days with the team. Humbled by the experience, he was grateful for the opportunity.

“I learned a lot about the game. Really the speed, it's a different level of speed. Not just physically but the mental processing. Not until my Junior year did I understand how important it was to know the playbook, and at minicamp, I was able to really see that as a benefit. The opportunity really gave me a good perspective of where I can improve my game.”

The Next Opportunity

Another connection Ezekiel made while in high school is Coach Taylor Genuser, now the Head Coach of the San Diego Strike Force (IFL). Coach Taylor was Noa's offensive coordinator while at Helix Charter High School. Genuser reached out to Noa and offered him a chance to join the Strike Force. As Noa had been open to new opportunities that arose, he humbly joined. Playing in five games with San Diego gave Ezekiel insight into the indoor game.

“I thought the outdoor game at the NFL level was fast but indoor was a different kind of fast. It’s tight spaces, meaning you have to process even faster, quick bursts, it's just fast.”

The season ended, and Coach King (Rapid City Marshals) reached out to Noa to be a part of the team.

“Being from San Diego, there really aren't any of these AFL teams close to me so I wasn’t really aware of the teams. I didn’t know anyone, I mean, besides Coach King, I really didn’t know anyone on the team. We had a long talk about the league and I respect his career. I mean people know Coach King, so I am excited to be with him again.”

Leadership Role

Noa speaks very highly of his coach. In return, there is clear mutual respect from Shon King. Even being a younger player in the league, he will be asked to step into a leadership role right away.

“As far as our talks, what he wants me to do is be a leader of this defense. I’m excited about playing ball and having fun. For me, playing ball for all these years, I’ve been able to build relationships and connections, it's huge for me. Those relationships and bonds will help me get on the field. It will be huge because I don’t know any of the players or coaches. My ability to form bonds goes beyond the field and it will help build the team chemistry. When joining I didn’t know any of my teammates, so my ability to form bonds will go a long way.”

When Ezekiel speaks, you can tell he is the type of person you want leading a team. He modeled his game and leadership styles after two of the best-to-ever play linebacker.

“Growing up, I liked Ray Lewis and Luke Kuechly. I learned a lot about Luke. He is a student of the game. I wanted to be a student of the game as well. How important it is to know the ins and out. Studying the game, just being able to play and not have to think about the ball, I wanted to know the ins and outs so it's second nature. Ray Lewis made me want to be the scariest guy on the field.”

Goals for this Season

Humbled by football and his walk in faith, Ezekiel is clearly passionate about being a team-first player. While he has some lofty personal goals, his focus is on what is best for the Marshals. Not only does he care about today’s results, but clearly, Noa wants to create something special for the future.

“Having that chance to go to the championship but win it too. I am a team player so that championship for the team is important. Trusting the guys and having them trust you as well. I am not focused on the individual stats. The vision from Coach King is just like mine - have a team mindset. Being able to trust your coach and teammates, that is how he’s building the team to lead everyone. For me - specific stats go out there to make all the tackles. That is my mindset. Goal wise Defensive Player of the Year.”

With this being a new experience, he is excited to learn and grow with his team.

“This is all new to me. So the new opportunities are really exciting for me. But getting to play with these new guys and build relationships, build this organization, and turn it around. Making an impact through the ball on and off the field.”

Building those bonds as Ezekiel states will be critical, as he mentioned knowing none of his teammates out the gate. There should be little doubt once the season rolls around he will have built the connections to move this defensive engine forward.

Faith, Family and Off-Season

Ezekiel Noa is a man who walks in the Faith. He speaks often about how it is very important for him on and off the field. Being a man of faith drives him to be the best person he believes he can be.

“First I am a child of God and that's who I am, I come out to spread God's love. To be able to spread the good news, anyway I can, including through football. I am excited to see what the gameday will look like. I think being able to share my relationship with God will help me build connections inside the team. Truly thankful for the ability to play ball again and I thank God for that every day for that.”

The Noa family is big, as Ezekiel is one of 9 brothers and sisters. His two younger brothers were fortunate enough to grow in the game of football with him. Noa trains with his dad and two younger brothers in the off-season and enjoys building his and his brothers’ training plans.

“Training on my own with my dad and brothers. They also play ball, but I make the workouts. Monday leg, Tuesday arm… the weight room is consistent. We go on the field everyday and try to perfect our craft. It's great to do this with my brothers. Diet is huge and it's new to me. I wasn’t worried about it when I was younger but now that I am a little older, I understand how critical it is. Get proper sleep and stay hydrated.”

In regards to his past knee injuries it is an area that Noa knows is important to focus on to stay healthy and maintain his fierce presence on the field.

“I’ve had a couple of knee surgeries, so I have a specific way to warm up so I make sure they (knees) are warm. I’m more cognizant of my body and learn how to prevent these from happening again. I have to make sure I do it, so I can be consistent. On rest days I make sure I’m stretching or at least walking because if I don’t, my body won't feel right the next day. ”

He and his younger brother were able to play together while at Helix and Boise State, which was an extremely meaningful and important experience for Noa.

“Senior year of high school playing ball with my little brother was the best moment of my football career.. He was a freshman in high school and good enough to make varsity and we shared the backfield. It was fun and special.”

His brother ended up following in his footsteps, joining him at college.

“My brother transferred to Boise my last year and I experienced ball with him again at college. My little brother plays for the Okanagan Suns in Canada, he was invited to go to BC lions. The youngest is in San Diego going to a Junior College playing ball.”

Ezekiel Noa will be one of the top players to watch this season. With his drive to become someone special on and off the field, as well as his leadership qualities, the Marshals are excited to have him man the linebacker spot on the defense. Noa and the Marshals start the season on April 27th at home vs the Iowa Rampage. You can catch Ezekiel on NFL Network on May 12th.

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