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 countdown of the top 10 Virginia Tech football players entering the 2014 season continues today at number 3, Dadi Nicolas.
Dadi Nicolas enters this season with only one career start but by the end of 2015, Nicolas can definitely end up being a two-year starter with his eyes on a future in the NFL. Nicolas was the third defensive end last season and is now ready to take advantage of his big opportunity.
Nicolas might have only played 313 defensive snaps and 377 total snaps last season but Nicolas put up some fairly impressive numbers for his limited game time. Nicolas had 32 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 pass deflections, and 1 interceptions. 3 of those sacks did come against Pittsburgh but that game just proves how Nicolas has the talent to absolutely take over a game.
When Athlon Sports anonymously asked ACC coaches for comments about other ACC programs, Dadi Nicolas was one player who one coach specifically praised. Of course, it could have been Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst who provided this comment but no matter who this is, this is very big praise for Nicolas.
"“Their young defensive end, a South Florida kid (Dadi Nicolas), he’s a playmaker. He’s a handful to handle. He didn’t start but played a lot. Really talented.”"
Oct 12, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end Dadi Nicolas (90) applies pressure to Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Tom Savage (7) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
This type of praise is big and shows how coaches across the ACC recognize that Nicolas is a guy who could do a whole lot of damage and put up some huge numbers now that he will get the chance to start.
One thing that is well known about Nicolas is the fact that he is a great athlete with incredible speed. Nicolas has primarily been a speed rusher and these speed rushing skills will be valuable against mobile quarterbacks like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Duke’s Anthony Boone, and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams.
An issue that Nicolas has had in the past is being too small at the defensive end position but he is now listed on hokiesports.com as a 6-4. 231 pound defensive end. Nicolas has gained some muscle and definitely had some room to get stronger without losing any speed or athleticism. Nicolas is developing into a complete defensive end and that has to worry ACC coaches.
Dadi Nicolas seems ready to have a breakout season in which he puts up 9 to 11 sacks with 12 to 15 tackles for loss and 55 to 65 total tackles. Nicolas has huge potential and is ready to prove that he is one of the best defensive ends in the ACC.