Post-Spring defensive roundtable: Part 2

1) Is Dadi Nicolas ready to be a starter?

GMSAHokie: We’ll see, but probably not.  Nicolas (r-So.) is yet another guy (WOW, this defense has loads of potential) who just jumps out at you when he is on the field.  His combination of motor and athleticism are probably unmatched by any other player on the team.  In fact, I can’t remember a player that single-minded and vicious in pursuit since Corey Moore wore Orange and Maroon.  And, Nicolas is blessed with a much better frame than Moore.  If Nicolas can put on some extra muscle, maintain his high-energy and learn to play with discipline, control, and great technique, then he is undoubtedly an NFL player.  That said, he is probably not quite ready to be a starter.  He is still a very young player.   Remember that he had legal issues that kept him out of practice last season and cost him valuable reps.

Right now, I see Nicolas as more of a situational player.  I have noticed that he has a tendency to over pursue and lose containment.  This is not at all uncommon for a young, aggressive player and is the kind of thing that Wiles will be able to correct with more reps.  The upside of Nicolas making those types of mistakes is that we get to see him do amazing things like running down a tailback from behind 30 yards downfield…wow!

Dadi Nicolas

If Collins really has turned it around and is ready to perform at 2011 levels, there is no reason to rush Dadi on the field before he is ready.  You also could have some personnel issues with Dadi.  He’s not quite strong enough at the point of attack or disciplined enough with reading his keys to play the end position in Tech’s scheme.  This means that when Dadi is in an actual game, I would expect Wiles to line him up at stud on the wide side of the field to take advantage of the things he does well.  This means you would need to slide James Gayle (r-Sr.) over to end, which he could certainly play, but Gayle is probably the best stud at VT since Corey Moore, so do you really want to do that very often?  I think we will see both Nicolas and Gayle on the field together some in obvious passing situations, but unless Dadi really beefs up over the summer, I expect to see Gayle and Collins starting with Nicolas as the top backup.