Top Veterans: No. 8 Nigel Nicholas

This is the third installment of our preseason series on the Top 10 Veteran Players for 2011. To be eligibile you have to be a veteran player that has either started or played a significant role as a backup player. The criteria to be on this list is that you play a vital position to the success of this season.

No. 8 - Nigel Nicholas, DT
6-3, 283, Jr.
Rossville, Georgia

The Hotel and Restaurant major who loves to cook has worked hard for the right recipe for an undersized defensive tackle to have success in the Big 12 and he seemingly perfected that last season.

Nicholas was thrust into a lot of snaps early on in the opener against Washington State when both starting defensive tackles (Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson) went down with injuries within a few snaps of each other. Nicholas bettered his numbers from his freshman season with 13 tackles (11 unassisted) and four tackles for loss and two sacks.

He may be well off the 300 pounds that seems to be the normal size for a defensive tackle, but he is lightning quick off the ball and throughout the play giving him an advantage to work with.

Nicholas is also smarter now and has soaked up the technique that defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Bill Young has been preaching. With Jarka and Donaldson gone, Nicholas and fellow undersized defensive tackle and sometimes defensive end Cooper Bassett are the leaders (Bassett, by the way, is now around 275 pounds).

Nicholas is tough and determined to be a standout on the defense. He talked a lot in the spring and has continued his preaching this summer of doing anything to help the team and working toward the next step of a Big 12 Championship and a BCS bowl game.

Off the field, Nicholas has an infectious personality and that will allow him to be a really solid leader for the multitude of young players that will have to move along quickly and be ready to help this season.

Expect to see Nicholas spotted at both the three technique and inside over the center, or the zero or one technique in a three-man front. In some situations you could even see him get wide at defensive end. He is that versatile!

Top 10 Veteran Cowboys
No. 10 Grant Garner
No. 9 Quinn Sharp

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