Freshmen have No Plans to Redshirt

Eugene Hayes and Derek Nicholson spent their Friday nights wreaking havoc on high school opponents last fall. This season, they're hoping to do the same thing on special teams for the Seminoles. Early reviews on both from coaches and teammates are favorable.

According to both standouts, redshirts won't be in the plans this season. Nicholson and Hayes will work with the kickoff coverage team as they wait their turn for reps with a very deep FSU linebacking corps.

"It's been great to get out here and learn the schemes, sweat blood, hit and tackle with the fellas and see what big time college football is like," Nicholson said after Tuesday's practice. "It's what I expected but I have exceeded my expectations so far and I am coming along faster than I thought I would."

Nicholson is working at Mike behind Buster Davis, Sam McGrew and Jae Thaxton. Since there are no plans to redshirt the North Carolina native, the possibility that he and his brother A.J. – an all-America candidate at Will – could be on the field at the same time at some juncture this season.

"That would be great," Derek said. "Nicholsons sideline-to-sideline. Just like high school. It would be fun and exciting for us both."

Hayes says that he is listed third on the depth chart behind A.J. Nicholson and Marcello Church. Rodney Gallon also plays at that spot.

The main goals for the former Madison County standout are to learn the defense and gain a few pounds.

"I'm catching onto the system better than I thought I would," Hayes said. "I've just been trying to fit my gaps, get my assignments down and learn something everyday.

"My mentality is to practice like I'm going to be playing and let things sort themselves out."

Their hard work and early grip on things hasn't gone unnoticed.

"They are catching on quick," McGrew said. "They caught on quicker than I ever have. They play real hard and the have great instincts. We can see that those boys can play. The coaches recruiting analysis was correct on them."

"Great linebackers have to have great instincts," Nicholson said. "You can't teach that. I thank God that's he's blessed me with instincts and athleticism.

Hayes and Nicholson know that their time will be next season. A.J. Nicholson, McGrew and Church are seniors. Davis and Ernie Sims will have the opportunity to declare for the NFL Draft.

For now, both are concerned with picking up the system and proving themselves to coaches.

"It's a lot of the same stuff we did in high school," Nicholson said. "But there is a lot of different terminology and more things to do quickly. You can't just go out there and freeball, you have to be responsible.

"I have to get everyone to feel comfortable with me and know that I'll make plays. I know I can, I just have to prove that to the coaches."

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