Nicks Celebrates Birthday in Chapel Hill

North Carolina commitment Hakeem Nicks returned home from his visit to Chapel Hill on Sunday completely focused on football.

"I had a great time," Nicks said. "I really liked (host) Kenton Thornton and I also spent a lot of time with Jesse Holley. Jesse is a real down to earth guy. I'm going to like playing beside him."

The Tar Heels surprised Nicks, who turned 18, by throwing him a birthday party on Saturday, complete with cake and ice cream.

It has and will continue to be a busy winter for the Charlotte Independence wide receiver, who caught two touchdowns and was named MVP in the state championship game in December, and then hauled in a touchdown to help lead N.C. to a victory in the Shrine Bowl a week later.

Nicks would normally be playing basketball now, but he's decided to forgo all other sports and concentrate totally on football. Next week he will begin work with a speed trainer.

"I want to get my 40-time down to 4.3 seconds," Nicks said. "I run about a 4.4 now."

Nicks said he is fully qualified academically to enroll at UNC this summer with a 1350 SAT score and a 3.5 GPA.

"I'll be at Carolina on June 20 ready to go," Nicks said.

Due to an early season hip injury in his senior year, Nicks was limited to six catches without a touchdown through the first three games. But he later emerged as the state's top wideout, totaling 1,819 yards receiving on 93 receptions and scoring 20 touchdowns.

A big game player, he led Independence to yet another state championship by registering the second-highest receiving yards in N.C. title game history, with 205 yards.

Ten of Nicks' touchdowns were scored in the post-season.

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