Hakeem Nicks saved the best game of his already stellar college football career for the national spotlight, a feat that the Junior from North Carolina might just be able to parallel into an NFL career should he declare himself eligible for the 2009 NFL Entry Draft.
Nicks, a 6-1 210 lbs Wide Receiver for the Tar Heels, wrecked havoc with the West Virginia Defense at the 2008 Meineke Bowl where he caught 8 passes for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Though the Tar Heels would go on to drop the game to West Virginia 30-31, Nicks left a firm impression on the minds of NFL scouts. The performance came at the tail end of a fantastic season which saw the gifted receiver catch 60 passes for 1,005 yards and 9 touchdowns during the regular season.
Those numbers included big games against Miami, Notre Dame, and Boston College. Against Miami, Nicks scored on a 74 yard reception in a 4th quarter Tar Heels come from behind victory, finishing the game with 133 yards receiving overall. Equally impressive against Notre Dame, Nicks helped erase an 11 point first half deficit by catching 9 passes for 141 yards to help sustain four different scoring drives in the 29-24 Tar Heels victory. Then against Boston College two weeks later, Hicks scored four times, three times on pass receptions and once on the ground to help ensure the 45-24 route of Boston College. He ended that game with 8 receptions for 133 yards.
Yet, as good as his 2008 Junior year numbers are, Hakeem Nicks is not a new revelation to college football. In three years at North Carolina, Nicks has fashioned an impressive overall resume’, having caught 173 passes for 2,623 yards and 18 touchdowns prior to his performance at the 2008 Meineke Bowl.
Should Nicks declare himself eligible for the 2009 NFL Draft, he would be the first Tar Heels underclassman to do so since 2002. Already one of the most explosive, if not the most explosive receiver in the ACC Conference, Nick’s powerful built makes him almost impossible to bring down after a catch. Add to that the fact that he has the type of large sure hands that make for one handed, YouTube-highlight type catches, and you have a NFL caliber prospect that few teams would pass up on. A tad slow by NFL receiver standards, Nicks can still cover the 40 in 4.5 seconds, but look for his Draft status to reach first or second round level if he should improve on that time at the NFL Combine. Right now, Nicks has a very high ceiling and he could very well be the next Anquan Boldin in the NFL.
Aaron Beard, “No 22 Tar Heels hold off Notre Dame 29-24,” www.rivals.yahoo.com
Robbi Pickeral, “Nicks grabs notice,” www.newsobserver.com