Hakeem Nicks Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- After a standout freshman season, Hakeem Nicks is getting used to a new coaching staff this spring. Inside Carolina's J.B. Cissell caught up with him after practice to discuss the first week of spring ball ...

Hakeem Nicks First week of practice feedback:

I feel like we have improved a whole lot, and we are coming together as a team. I'm struggling a little bit coming back from a little shin injury. I'm not getting as many reps, but I'm getting back. We are coming together really good.

The pace of practice is so much faster. What is that like?

We want to practice like champions because that is what we want to be. To be a champion--like Coach tells us every time--practice like a champion, and that means working hard, giving great effort, fast-paced, game speed, so your body can get used to it. It's really good; we are adapting really well.

How much is working on fundamentals, and how much is working on plays? It seems like they are throwing a lot of the playbook at you.

Yeah, but they give us the playbook a couple days ahead of time, and it is up to us to go and study it, which most of us do. I know I go back and study. Then we come back to team meetings and they re-teach it so it can be fresh in your head before practice. Then we go out and practice and they re-teach it again at walk-throughs, then we go through and do it. You learn at a faster pace.

What is it like for you going from the new kid on the block to now a guy who people look to as someone they expect to perform and someone they can rely upon?

I look at it like, 'Just play ball.' I try not to let everything get to me. It's the same ball. I also look at it like I did when I first got here: 'I've got to be a playmaker.' I want [the team] to be able to depend on me, and I want to be able to depend on them like I know I can. I want to build that relationship with my teammates.

What is it like having Joe Dailey, who used to be the guy throwing you the ball, as someone who is in your same position group learning a lot of the same things you are learning?

Actually, it's very good because Joe knows everything--he's really smart. If I don't know something, he teaches like he is still the quarterback in the huddle. If I don't know I just look over to Joe, and he'll be like, 'You got this,' or 'You got that.' But Joe is still learning some quarterback. He's going back and forth, so it helps out with the wide receivers a lot in the team meetings.

What has it been like watching him move over to receiver? He's such a great athlete.

Joe is an excellent athlete. I give him all the credit, hands-down. He is just a flat-out athlete from quarterback to wide receiver. I feel he is a really good athlete, great teammate, great person to be around, high-spirited dude. He's somebody you can look up to and take advice from.

What is it like learning the new offense's terminology?

It's going well. You just have to study your play book. They teach so much in walk-throughs and team meetings. They critique you and it helps on the field.

What did the coaching staff say when they came since they have no history with you about "Blank slate," that sort of thing?

Coach Davis's motto was, 'If you are good you can play.' That goes for freshman, walk-on, whatever. If you are good you can play. Everybody liked that a lot. The fact that he came in and everybody started off with a clean slate, everybody felt renewed, and everybody has a chance to show the coaches what they can do.

Who has impressed you in practice?

Brandon Tate. He's showing up really good. Joe is showing up really good. Basically, the whole offense, the whole defense. I feel like we are coming together, practicing at a fast pace.

I think everybody knew that Trimane Goddard's injury was going to be a set-back, but it seems in retrospect that it was even bigger than expected. What is it like to have him back?

Oh, man. Trimane is just a playmaker. That's all you have to say. He brings life to the secondary, and with him back I know we as a team feel comfortable--and the coaching staff--with Trimane back. He's a smart person and a very good playmaker.

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