"It definitely [has] helped," said Nicholson. "I feel bad for the people who are coming in later during the summer because there is so much to learn in such a short period of time. We have a lot more time to learn things."
Nicholson has been in Raleigh for just a few months and one of the biggest adjustments has been to college life. He's living in a new environment and building personal relationships away from the gridiron.
"The College Inn is cool," he said. "It pretty much has all athletes in there. You get to hang out with all your friends from the football team. Everything is good over there. Everything you get there is nice.
"I have actually met people from several other sports. I have met tennis players, basketball players, so that’s cool. It is cool to meet new people like that."
Academically, he's fitting right in, which should be expected for a kid capable of enrolling early at NC State.
"My favorite class right now is probably sociology," said Nicholson. "It really interests me. I actually took college classes before I got here so I am kind of used to the workload and I am used to the time management because I have been here for so long [this semester].
"I picked [Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management for his major] because I want to do something outdoors, do something with kids and something that helps me kind of stay young and out in the open. I don’t want to be stuck at a desk job."
An instinctive linebacker who flies over the field making plays, Nicholson totaled 132 tackles, including 70 solo stops, and forced five fumbles as a senior, leading Osceola (FL) to a 13-2 record and an appearance in the Florida 7A state title game.
Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren raved about Nicholson on Signing Day.
"He had many options," Doeren said. "I just felt very strongly that this was a guy we needed to get on our football team. He is tough, quick, is competitive, has great feet and has good instincts and vision.
"Coach Nichols does a really nice job with the Osceola program. Again, we're trying to get not just good players but good players from good programs. This is definitely one of them. Riley will have a chance to be an early contributor for us if he can stay healthy and continue to do what he is doing. He is a worker."
How has spring practice been going for Nicholson?
"It's going good," he said. "It started off kind of slow. I wasn’t really used to lining up in the alignments and knowing all the alignments and coverages.
"We are getting the hang of it. It is all going good. I am getting used to the game speed, which is a real good thing."
Nicholson's development has been aided by the fact that NC State has some other linebackers with experience.
"Kids that are mentoring me are Ernie [Robinson] and Jerod Fernandez," he said. "Airius [Moore] does too. They all kind of come together so when I have questions I can ask them."
Nicholson was one of eight early enrollees for the Wolfpack, and that connection has allowed them to become friends.
"Me and James [Smith-Williams] actually live next to each other so we are pretty close," he said. "Me and Reggie [Gallaspy] go out to eat two or three times a week. A.J. and Kyle are the ones I hang out with the most."