Nicolas, who redshirted last fall for the Fighting Irish, decided to leave the Notre Dame program in mid August. He had three schools in mind when looking where to go — CU, UCLA and Cal.
Nicolas was the seventh Golden Domer to transfer from the program since spring practices, which were the first team practices under new Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis.
Initially, Weis balked at signing Nicolas' transfer papers because Notre Dame and UCLA have an agreement to play each other before Nicolas' eligibility would be up, something that went against Weis' policy. However, the Nicolas family was prepared to fight Weis' policy in court and the first-year Notre Dame backed down and signed the transfer waiver.
As it turned out, Nicolas didn't transfer to a Notre Dame opponent. Instead, he took a trip to Boulder Aug. 31 and never left. The trip sold him on the Buffs and the university, and Nicolas quickly enrolled in school and began practicing with the football team.
Nicolas, on scholarship, is sitting out a mandatory transfer year. He will have three years to play three at CU beginning in 2006. He is practicing at defensive tackle, where he will compete for a starting position beginning in the spring. He is currently at 275 pounds, and says he wants to get bigger.
CU graduates three interior defensive linemen after the 2005 season — starters Vaka Manupuna and James Garee, and key reserve John Guydon. Unless things change drastically, the Buffs will return just one interior lineman in the current two-deep, George Hypolite, who saw his first action as a true freshman Saturday vs. New Mexico State. Obviously, defensive tackle/nose tackle is a big need position for the Buffs, and Nicolas' addition could pay big dividends next year.
BSN spoke with Nicolas Wednesday after practice.
Q: Are you feeling like you're settling in yet?
Brandon Nicolas: Yeah, I feel like I'm settling in with school and with the team. It all happened quick, so I had to adjust quick.
Q: What's your major and what kind of classes are you taking?
BN: Right now I'm still undecided. But I want to be a business major. I'm taking a lot of general education.
Q: But it was OK that you came in to your classes a few weeks late?
BN: Yeah. Actually, I got in the last day. Just an hour before (deadline). I cut it real close.
Q: How's practice been going? Does anything strike you as significantly different from what you were doing at Notre Dame?
BN: No, I don't really think so. Football is football. Just different coaches, different ways they teach things. It's going really well, though. I really like it a lot.
Q: What led to you leaving Notre Dame?
BN: It just didn't really work out for me and I decided to move on. That's about all I'm going to say about that.
Q: Are you surprised that they've played well this year – they got that big win at Michigan.
BN: I wasn't too surprised. I knew they were going to do really well. It's a good team with a lot of good players and coaching staff. They should do well.
Q: Tell me why you ended up choosing Colorado.
BN: I was looking at UCLA and Colorado, and a little bit at Cal. Colorado and UCLA were two schools I really liked out of high school, along with Notre Dame. So, I was talking to the coaches a lot. I had good exchanges with Coach Cabral on the phone. I really liked talking to him. When I came out here for a visit, I decided to stay.
Q: What struck you when you came out here for that visit?
BN: I like the coaches, I like the school. I know they've got a great business school. It's great weather.
Q: There are three defensive linemen that will graduate after this season. Do you feel good about your chances to be here this fall and in the spring and then compete for a starting spot next season?
BN: Yeah, I really wanted to come in somewhere where I could compete and play. I just want to come out here and work hard and earn a job in the spring. Right now I'm just working on getting the first team offense better, working on scout team.
Q: What's your impression of the true freshmen class of defensive linemen?
BN: They're young, but I think they're coming along really well. I know George (Hypolite) has had to grow up pretty quick because he's been in there already. It's great for him; he's getting some experience. The other guys are working hard.