|Bench Press:||295 pounds|
|School:||Beaver Area SHS, Beaver, PA|
Just recently, Beaver, Pa. (Beaver HS) tight end Rory Nicol returned from a trip to two southern powers. Should those schools be added to his list of Penn State, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh?
"Florida State was hot. I just got back from down there on Friday. It rains there everyday at like three o'clock and then the sun comes out and you can't even breathe," said Rory of the Tallahassee heat and humidity.
"Florida State's (facilities) under a lot of construction right now. Their weight room's going to be awesome," said Rory. "It's hot. I wasn't too impressed with Florida State to be honest. Good program--first year they haven't been ranked in the top five in the nation, I was reading in the USA Today. Their tight ends are just really not my style."
Although the Seminoles shouldn't expect to get Rory's signature, the trip will help Rory with his final decision.
"I'm glad that I went and at least saw it and weighed out the option," Rory said.
While Florida State did not make a huge impression on him, did he like the second southern school he visited, Tennessee.
"Tennessee I did like on the other hand. Tennessee is a good situation, very similar to Penn State at tight end, except they don't have any tight ends at all," explained Rory, who was told an offensive lineman may have to move to tight end this year.
Florida State's offense did not have a need for a pass catching tight end, but does the Volunteer philosophy feature one?
"Obviously with Jason Witten they did. He caught a ton of balls for them, but he was an exception," Rory said. "The SEC sees a lot of man coverage, which I like. It's so hard to cover a crossing route or then you get me running deep with a little corner, like a dime back.
"I like the style and all that stuff. And the stadium is real big, so it's just like Penn State," compared Rory, who visited UT unofficially for a day. "I was down there on a Tuesday and Kenny Chesney, the country singer--I don't listen to country but he's one of the most popular guys in [country music]--he graduated from Tennessee and they just had a concert in the stadium. They sold it out--104,000 for a country concert. That's ridiculous."
"I liked it. They'd definitely be in my top three."
Rory did not seem to mention Tennessee in any previous interviews. When did the Volunteers become interested?
"They called my coach. I think, Coach Stephens, who recruits me, I think he's new to their staff or they didn't know about me because they weren't really recruiting me from the beginning. And then they came in and made an offer, so I went down and saw it," said Rory. "No, they weren't in it from the beginning. But I liked Tennessee my entire life and I wanted to see it."
A recent report by a North Carolina fan site declared Rory had a top two of North Carolina and Tennessee. Is that a fair assessment of how things stand in Rory's mind right now?
"I was talking to A.Q. (Shipley) this morning, he called me about (Dan) Connor. I don't even know where that article is from because I didn't even talk to anybody," admitted Rory. "It feels like to me, Penn State, North Carolina, and Tennessee would be my top three right now."
Rory did mention a concern about one of the schools that comprise his top three. "The only thing that I think about in my head is North Carolina, with Miami going to the ACC, I just think it's going to be tough for them to beat Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech. That conference is just so strong right now," said Rory about the upgraded ACC.
"I'd say Tennessee and Penn State are a little higher than North Carolina right now just because of the way I think of the ACC."
With many of top players in western Pennsylvania friends, as well as opponents, Rory has been getting calls from Pitt verbals and Penn State verbals. Does Rory plan to make an early commitment or does he see official visits in his future?
"I think I made a decision in my head that I want to take some official visits. But I'm going to take them all early. So if a school is not going to let me come in September then I'm not going to take a visit there, that's just how it's going to be. I don't really see myself waiting until February to decide, so I don't want to wait until December to take my officials," stated Rory, who has a good reason to chose early. "I'm really starting to consider [graduating] early, like January."
"As long as I could clear the (NCAA) Clearinghouse--I'd be short a half of semester of English, so I'd have to cyber school (on the internet). I'd go to school and everything, but for my English, I'd go in a computer lab and I'd have to finish it all in a semester," explained Rory, who will find out when at a school meeting when his principal returns from vacation. "If it's doable, I'm definitely going to do it. I've decided."
While graduating early gives Rory a chance to get acclimated to the college life and classes before any of his fellow recruiting class, it also adds an advantage on the football field.
"I've kind of gotten into that mindset too, because the schools in my top two, Tennessee and Penn State, they're almost begging me to play early. Tennessee has nothing and Penn State loses everything. It just seems that wherever I go I'm going to need to play early. I'm not scared to play early, I just want to make sure I'm ready. I think having a whole year of spring ball is going to be such a big bonus," Rory admitted enthusiastically.
Although Rory maintains that Tennessee and Penn State are quite even, Penn State is doing a great job convincing him just by the class they are bringing in.
"It's just so tough. Penn State's getting so many good freaking players--it just makes you think about the future," admitted Rory, who received a hand written letter from Joe Paterno earlier in the week.
With the advent of the internet and rumors constantly flying, should Penn State or Tennessee fans believe any update that Rory has committed to a school if he has not taken an official visit there?
"The biggest thing for me is I just to get my parents to see everything. I don't want to make a decision to go to Penn State with them not even see Tennessee and vice versa," said Rory bluntly. "My first two officials, if at all possible, will be to those two, without a doubt. Then if Penn State's it, I can drive there every weekend and go to the games and be with the guys."
Nittany Lion and Volunteer fans will have to sweat it out a bit longer for TheInsiders #2 tight end. But in the end, whoever gets Rory will have a fine addition to their class and school.
(Interview by Steve Curry)