The anchor of this year's USF defense is the man in the middle Stephen Nicholas. Nicholas performed outstanding last year, and people are taking notice. Before the season started he was named to the national Butkus Award Watch List after recording 97 tackles as a sophomore. He was also named to the preseason all-Big East team in the Street & Smith's College Football 2005 Yearbook. This year Nicholas has found a way to step his game up to a whole new level. He has also become a leader, on the field. Although you would never know that by talking to him off the field. You get the feeling he likes it, but you also know it won't go to his head.
"It feels good, it means I have to play" Nicholas says, "that's why I got nominated, because I go out and play hard every week, its all I do, Its all I know."
And that is all he has done this year, play hard. He has already racked up three sacks in three games including six tackles for losses and a forced fumble. He has also been the leader of a defense that has only allowed seventeen points in the last two games. This has been a big turnaround from what Bulls fans saw last year.
Nicholas credits focus as the main factor in the defenses improvement from last year.
"It's all about the focus, also coming out and playing hard, but definitely staying focused the whole game has improved us."
As far as all the hype with the Butkus award, Nicholas said he doesn't even look at the list or what other guys on the list have done.
"I won't look at the list, I'll wait for you to tell me that stuff" Nicholas said, laughingly as he always does.
Nicholas Not Buying Into The Hype
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