Punter Brandon Nickle Preparing To Compete For Starting Role

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Brandon Nickle’s verbal commitment ensured Virginia Tech of having at least two punters on its roster in the 2016 season. Nickle, a senior at Oak Ridge (TN), will join red-shirt junior Mitchell Ludwig in competition for the job as starting punter.

“I’m excited because [Shibest] did say the position is wide open right now,” Nickle said. “A 4-year starter left after last year. Coach Shibest said to just keep working hard. He wants me to compete for the starting job.”

Nickle plans to enter preseason practice physically and mentally ready for the challenge.

“Obviously, I’m still going to work out,” Nickle replied when asked what he will work on before arriving in Blacksburg for good in just a few months time. “I’ll probably go to some camps and probably work with Jamie Kohl this summer some. I’m going to try to get in with a sports psychologist to get the mental part of the game. Oak Ridge is a good high school football program in Tennessee, but when I step into Lane Stadium and there are 66,000 fans it will be a big difference.”

Virginia Tech began showing interest on National Signing Day in February earlier this year. It was then that Nickle was first contacted by Shibest.

“Coach Shibest sent me a message on Twitter,” recalled Nickle. “He was telling me the situation there and what they have at punter. He told me he wanted to start following me and getting to know me. He didn’t know what would be available scholarship-wise after Signing Day. It ended up being a preferred walk-on opportunity.”

A preferred walk-on opportunity from Virginia Tech was enough for Nickle, who turned down scholarship offers from New Mexico State and North Dakota State. Oklahoma State pursued him as a preferred walk-on as well.

“I went up to Virginia Tech for the first day of spring practice,” Nickle said. “After I visited, I thought if I get a full scholarship offer I would commit. And if I got a preferred walk-on, I’d still probably go there. I also had a preferred walk-on to Oklahoma State and it came down to Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is closer to home, is better academically, and it’s better for me and my family.”

“I’ve been told