RECRUITING: OU assistant has ties to NC LB

Winston-Salem, N.C. linebacker Derek Nicholson says he hopes to make a summer trip to Norman.

DEREK NICHOLSON, LB, 6'1, 225, 4.6, WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA (MOUNT TABOR HS):

Derek Nicholson is one of those linebackers that college coaches drool over because he is a player that looks almost too good to be true.

Nicholson will be a four-year starter, starting as a freshman at inside linebacker next to his brother, A.J., who is playing at Florida State right now. Nicholson has played middle linebacker the last two years and that is where he feels he will play in college.

"Most people are telling me in the 4-3 scheme that I will play the Mike or the 'will'. In the 3-4 I would be an inside linebacker. I will play any position that I can help the team, but I have been playing middle linebacker since I was little. I will play outside linebacker if that is what the coaches want me to do."

Nicholson finished with 181 tackles a year ago, 27 for losses, 10 sacks, three interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Nicholson also scored a couple touchdowns on offense at fullback in the wishbone and he returned an interception for a score. As a sophomore, Nicholson made 172 tackles and for his career he has 476 tackles.

Nicholson can bench 330 pounds, squats 500 and he has a 33-inch vertical jump. Nicholson went to a combine in North Carolina recently and did well and he went to North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forrest, Duck, Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech this spring.

"This summer I hope to get up and see some schools that I haven't seen thus far," said Nicholson. "I hope to make it up to Oklahoma, Miami, Virginia and Notre Dame this summer either for a camp or just traveling with my family.

"I just talked to Oklahoma recently and I really like and respect them. They have turned out two Butkus Award winners in the last three years and they always play with great linebackers. They have a great linebacker coach and their defense is always one of the best in the country. Their tradition is tremendous and I have to consider them."

Derek said that his father played with Coach Kevin Wilson at North Carolina and lived in the same athletic complex with the Sooner Run Game Coordinator and offensive line coach. Darrell Nicholson was a four-year starter at North Carolina and left the Tar Heels as their all-time leading tackler.The elder Nicholson also played with the New York Giants in the NFL, so you know the bloodlines are good.

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