Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end Dadi Nicolas (90) during the game against the UCLA Bruins in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies are seeing some change for the upcoming season at the defensive end position due to the graduations of James Gayle and J.R. Collins. On top of that, the Hokies only have one returning defensive line starter in Third Team All-ACC senior Luther Maddy at defensive tackle with Derrick Hopkins also graduating recently. However, the defensive end spot has a lot of potential to be quite strong and that is led by the one man who was a solid contributor on the bench last season.
Dadi Nicolas has gained playing time over his first two seasons in Blacksburg and now will be getting the chance he deserves to be a starter for the Hokies. The junior defensive end is one of the fastest defensive ends in all of college football and has ran a 4.47 40 yard dash this past winter. Nicolas has the speed to chase down running backs but Nicolas’s speed can be used for more than just chasing down opposing running backs at a very high level.
Dadi Nicolas is an above-average edge rusher and that type of speed will allow him to dominate a lot of offensive tackles who do not have more refined pass blocking skills. Nicolas had 4 sacks last season and his elite speed rushing talents can help him potentially have 8 to 10 sacks this fall. Nicolas’s above-average speed allowed him to also get 7 tackles for loss this past fall and Nicolas could be a guy that can really do some damage plugging holes and stuffing running backs in the backfield.
The biggest concern with Dadi Nicolas is his size as Nicolas is seen as having good height at 6-3 but having the build of a linebacker right now at 218 pounds. Nicolas is a guy that has never been a power rusher but Nicolas will need to get a little stronger to be able to maximize his potential. Of course, Nicolas does have the skills to probably be a 3-4 OLB at the next level but he needs to bulk up to around 240 pounds by the time he leaves Blacksburg and should try to get to 225 to 230 before this season.
Dadi Nicolas has a lot of potential and as the only returning defensive end who made significant contributions for the Hokies in 2013, Nicolas will have a lot of expectations to play at a very high level but there is no reason to think that Nicolas won’t be able to do exactly that. Dadi Nicolas is the man that will have the expectations to lead the defensive ends for the Hokies and he is ready to do exactly that.
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