"I've seen A.J.'s film from high school and I've seen Derek play live twice," The Insiders.com Recruiting Analysis Miller Safrit said. "I think Derek might be smaller than his brother but he might have more potential. His strengths are his instincts and his ability to easily shed blocks and make tackles. Derek's lower body build is one of the best I've seen in quite some time."
Recruiting analysis aren't; the only ones that have taken notice of his talent. Nicholson has already been offered by seven colleges, including Tennessee, Mississippi State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
"I've [been] getting a lot of letter also," Nicholson said. "I'm getting them from a lot of schools like Notre Dame and Miami."
Nicholson wasn't ready to name a top list of schools but he has ties to two universities because of his father and brother.
"I wide open now," he said. "Distance will not be a factor with me. I'll probably narrow a top five list down after my senior football season. North Carolina was my favorite team growing up because my father played there. When my brother signed with Florida State I became neutral."
What does he like about the Tar Heels and Seminoles?
"I grew up a fan of North Carolina," he said. "It's close to home and it looks like they need a lot of help soon. I think they have a good coaching staff also. I've probably been there unofficially four or five times but I've been to Florida State a lot more. I've seen a lot of Florida State lately and I know a lot about them. I would love a chance to play with my brother. We played together in high school. Florida State linebacker Coach Steele is a nice, down to earth man. A.J. speaks highly of him. Florida State will be in my top three at the end."
The Mt. Tabor high school standout has several factors in deciding where he'll spend the next four to five years of his life.
"Being comfortable will be a factor," he said. "I'm looking for a place that I will have an opportunity to make an early impact. Going to a school with a winning tradition is important and distance won't matter. The place I'm looking for will feel like a home away from home. The school will have to have a good coaching staff also."
As a senior Nicholson had an amazing 181 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks.
Qualifying academically will not be a problem for Nicholson. He has a 3.8 grade point average with a score of 19 on the ACT.
How would the 6-foot-1 and 230 pound linebacker describe his style of play on the field?
"I'm a little old school like Dick Butkus with aggressiveness and a little new school like Ray Lewis," he said.