Vols In Mix for Nix

If a college football team doesn't know whether it needs help on the offensive line more than the defensive line, Lucas Nix, of Clairton, Pa., would be the ideal prospect to sign since the agile athlete offers answers on either side of the neutral zone.

Given that the Vols had problems controlling the line of scrimmage against elite opponents last season, they qualify as a team in need of trench talent, and it help explains why they are ranging into the Keystone State for help.

In reality virtually every team could use help in the line and must have solid prospects on board to develop, as few linemen of any type come to college ready to play at ground zero much less start.

Look at UT's present depth chart and you see players that took two or three years to earn a starting job. Even a high school All-American such as Demonte Bolden is entering his fourth season since high school and is only now pushing for a starting job. Ditto for All-American O-lineman Eric Young who broke into the starting lineup as a fourth year junior.

At 6-foot-5, 280 pounds Nix looks surprisingly lean and could easily add muscle to his impressive frame without degrading his 5.2 speed or his 30-inch vertical. But his most valuable attribute is his ability to explode off the ball and into his opponent's grill. Scout.com offers the following evaluation of Nix's game.

"Nix could project on either side of the line of scrimmage. He is very explosive and quick off the snap. He has quick hands and beats most offensive linemen with his combination of burst and hand speed. He is a blue-collar type of a player who always gives a solid effort. He is tough and very physical at the point of attack and is solid in pursuit. He needs to fill out his body and add more muscle mass to a great frame."

Lucas Nix played both ways for Thomas Jefferson High School last season, helping his team to a 14-1 mark and the state title game. He compiled 60 tackles with seven sacks to earn Class AAA All-State honors from the Associated Press. A starter since his freshman season, he was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22" squad and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25" team.

"I'm really quick for my size and move well," Nix told Allen Wallace of SuperPrep. "I get off the ball fast and drive my feet hard. I'm very physical, but I want to get stronger and be able to overpower guys more."

Nix currently bench presses 315 pounds and a squat of 400. He owns a 2.9 GPA. His brother Nate is a linebacker at nearby Pittsburgh. Not surprisingly, the Panthers were the first to offer Luke a scholarship (last September), but his list of options has been steadily growing, as he has added offers from Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and West Virginia. He plans to take unofficial visits this spring to Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and Georgia, and hopes to choose a school before his senior season begins.

The question of what he'll play is as debatable at this point as where he'll play.

"Initially, I thought (he'd wind up) on the offensive side of the ball, but he is so quick off the ball, uses his hands well," Jefferson head coach Bill Cherpak told IrishEyes.com. "His arms, he has incredibly long arms. If he is touching you, you can't touch him, his arms are so long, so he can do both. It will be up to the coaches."

It sounds like the fight for Nix's services will continue after he selects a college.

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