#3 CB Deatrick Nichols
Junior, 5’10”, 189 lbs.
That’s Pronounced: DEE-trick.
2015 Stats: Nichols settled right into the starting lineup and started all 13 games at cornerback. He logged 62 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and led the team with four interceptions. Deatrick scored USF’s only defensive touchdown of the 2015 season with a 29-yard interception return against Cincinnati. He also had one sack, broke up five passes, forced two fumbles, and recovered one. Nichols was named first team all-American Athletic Conference last year, and he received USF’s Most Improved Player award after the season.
Position on Depth Chart: Nichols is again one of USF’s starting cornerbacks.
Watch List Watch: Nichols is on preseason watch lists for the Jim Thorpe Award (for the nation’s best defensive back) and the Bednarik Award (for the best defensive player).
How He Came To USF: Deatrick played cornerback and ran track at powerhouse Miami Central High School. He made 105 career tackles, 12 interceptions, and two forced fumbles for the Rockets despite missing much of his senior year due to injury. Central won three state titles during Nichols’s time there, including each of his last two seasons. USF had a bit of an advantage in recruiting Deatrick because his former high school coach was Telly Lockette, who joined Willie Taggart’s staff in 2013. He committed in May of that year and signed onto USF’s 2014 recruiting class over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, and UCLA.
Recruiting Rankings: Nichols was a three-star prospect on all the major recruiting sites.
Projected Playing Time: A lot. Every single play if he can manage it and if the defense needs him on the field. Nichols deserved that most improved award last year for going from a reserve defensive back as a freshman to a first-team all-conference starter as a sophomore. Usually you don’t want cornerbacks getting really high tackle numbers — it means they gave up a lot of completions. But in Nichols’ case it’s OK because he was making plays in run coverage near and behind the line of scrimmage. There are already a couple of draftniks raving about Deatrick’s ability, and another all-conference-type season could see him become a sleeper NFL prospect.
Follow Him On... It doesn’t look like Nichols is on Twitter, but you can follow him on Instagram at d.nichols.jr.