Carl Nicks (OT)
The well traveled offensive lineman finally found a home with the Huskers, stationing himself at the demanding left tackle position as a senior, his only season as a starter. With his massive frame, long wing span and aggressive nature, it was commonplace to see defensive linemen engulfed by Nicks on a regular basis.
For a player of his size, he is quite effective at getting out in front on drive blocks. Some professional teams feel he might have to shift to right tackle at the next level to compensate for a lack of ideal foot speed to be isolated on the edge vs. speedy pass rushers, but in 481 pass plays during his final campaign, he allowed just one sack and one pressure.
At North Salinas High School, Nicks was a standout defensive tackle, playing at a mere 280 pounds. He earned All-County honors from the Monterey Herald and was a first-team All-Area choice. He added All-Tri County Athletic League first-team accolades and was named the league's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2002.
Nicks enrolled at New Mexico State in 2003, appearing in five games as a reserve defensive tackle. He recorded three tackles with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and also recovered a fumble. He entered 2004 spring camp about to make the move to offensive guard, but academic problems forced him to transfer to Hartnell Junior College the following season.
At Harnell College, Nicks earned 2005 California Community College Football Coaches Association first-team All-American honors and Region II first-team All-California accolades as an offensive lineman while playing for head coach Larry Souza. Nicks also was named a third-team JC-Gridwire/JCFootball.com All-American, as he helped lead Hartnell to a 7-4 record and a conference championship. He received a four-star rating from Scout.com and Rivals.com, which listed him as the 35th-best junior college prospect in the country. He also competed on the track team in the shot put and discus.
Nicks then enrolled at Nebraska in 2006, where he served as a valuable "sixth man" on the offensive line. He also performed on the PAT and field goal units. Late in the season, he earned a pair of starts vs. Colorado and Oklahoma at right tackle.
Nicks earned second-team All-Big 12 Conference recognition as a senior for the Huskers in 2006. He started 11 games at left tackle, coming off the bench vs. Kansas State after being suspended for the first quarter of that contest due to disciplinary reasons. Despite general struggles by the team, Nicks provided excellent pass protection as the Nebraska quarterbacks completed a school single-season record 296 passes.
In his only season as a starter, Nicks allowed just one sack and one pressure on 481 pass plays. He registered 76 knockdowns, coming up with key blocks on 14 touchdown drives as he finished the year with an 83.4 percent grade for blocking consistency.
As a sophomore, Nicks earned 2005 California Community College Football Coaches Association first-team All-America honors and Region II first-team All-California honors as an offensive lineman playing for Coach Larry Souza. Nicks also was named a third-team JC-Gridwire/JCFootball.com All-American as he helped lead Hartnell to a 7-4 record and a conference championship. Nicks received a four-star rating from Scout.com. College Football News ranked Nicks as the sixth-best junior college offensive lineman in the country, and the 25th-best junior college prospect in the nation. Nicks is ranked No. 9 on the SuperPrep JUCO 100. Nicks chose the Huskers after also receiving offers from California, Washington, Wisconsin and Louisville. Nicks also threw shot put and discus for Hartnell.
Attended North Salinas (Cal.) High School...Standout defensive tackle, earning All-County honors from the Monterey Herald and was a first-team All-Area choice...Added All-Tri County Athletic League first-team accolades and was named the league's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2002.
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Positives: Has a wide, thick frame with a wide waist and hips, long arms, large hands, very thick thighs and legs...Has surprisingly good foot quickness for a player his size, but has better lateral range and suddenness out of his stance when he plays at a lighter weight (best at 325 pounds)...Mentally tough, but not overly aggressive and despite academic struggles, he shows good field awareness (only penalized once the last two years)...Extends his arms properly and sinks his hips in order to consistently lock on and ride his man wide...Keeps his pad level down and shows good determination to finish his blocks, as he uses his long arms well to reach, wall off and seal the defender...Has decent flexibility and adjustment skills on the move, but does struggle at times to cut off at the second level...Generates a powerful explosion behind his hand punch and displays good tenacity as a drive blocker, using his long arms and hand jolt to handle double moves and anchor firmly vs. the inside surge...Rolls his hips and slides his feet well adequately in pass protection, as it is rare to see him cross his feet, doing a nice job of shooting his hands and keeping his arms properly extended to mirror the edge rushers (will struggle vs. quick counter moves, but it is rare to see a bull rusher walk him back into the pocket... When he keeps his pads down and generates good hip roll, he creates good movement to create another line of scrimmage...Runs his feet well in attempts to finish blocks and knows how to use his size to wall off his opponent, doing a better job of maintaining inside leverage and readjusting back than most bigger blockers...Stays on his feet upon initial contact and can generated a strong punch with either hand rising out of his stance...Determined drive blocker with the natural strength to consistently drive through and knock down defenders, as he aggressively attacks his man until the whistle...When he extends and uses his hands to lock up and sustain, the battle is quickly over...Can slide his feet adequately in the short area (will struggle to adjust in the second level) and is not the type who will rely on his big frame to lean into a defender (loves to face up and maul rather than sit back and wait for the action.
Negatives: Has problems mirroring the speedier edge rushers and vs. double moves and might be a better fit for the right side, where he won't be exposed on an island...Weight fluctuates considerably (was 280 three years ago and 343 at the Senior Bowl after playing the season at 327)...When he fails to get good hand placement, he reverts to catching in pass protection...Lacks a good running stride when getting to the second level and must be quicker adjusting with his blocks in space...Combative with his hands, but can be beaten by slippery counter moves...When he aims high coming out of his stance, it lets the edge rushers utilize a quick spin move to slip by...Still raw in his foot movements setting up in pass protection, but has shown steady improvement as a starter...Has good hand placement, but needs to be quicker using them to recoil...Does not change direction well or recover quickly when on the move (best when parked at the X's)...Sometimes gets too wild with his arm swipes, leaving his chest exposed for the defensive end to attack.
Compares To: FLOZELL ADAMS-Dallas...Like Adams, Nicks might be a massive blocker, but he doesn't use his size as a crutch. He has nimble feet for a player his size and even though he lacks the change of direction skills to consistently handle the speed rush, he will drop his weight and extend his long arms to wall off. He has the hand strength to win most one-on-one battles when he gets into the defender's chest. He needs to drop a few pounds in order to improve his lateral range, but he has the functional foot quickness to slide and reach his set point. His best asset is his ability to explode into his man and maintain balance doing it. Move him inside to guard for a few years to enhance his learning curve, as he has had just one season as a starter at tackle under his belt.
2006: Sat out the Kansas State (10/14), Texas (10/21) and Oklahoma State (10/28) contests with an undisclosed injury.
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