“When I watch him, I get the chills,” Nicholson said. “It’s like the ball is a magnate to our hands because no matter where we go we make the plays.”
In his two years since being drafted in the first round out of USC, Jackson has both intercepted and caught passes, tackled ball carriers and been the ball carrier, and returned both kicks and punts.
Nicholson intends to be that same kind of a player at FAU, and his speed and tenacity could make him a contributor in all three phases of the game.
As a receiver Nicholson caught 36 passes for 721 yards and six touchdowns. He rushed for 355 yards and eight scores, often playing wildcat quarterback. Nicholson also intercepted four passes as a defensive back and was a standout kickoff and punt returner for Lee.
Nicholson used his 4.5 speed to score 16 total touchdowns as senior.
“He’s got it all,” Lee coach O. J. Small said. “He’s the total package – just electrifying with the ball.”
Nicholson said FAU assistant coaches are battling internally over which side of the ball he’ll play first. Offensive coaches, including offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, want Nicholson in the offensive meeting room. Despite Nicholson having only played defensive back for a year and a half, FAU defensive coaches view him as a lockdown defender.
“They said I’m going to play DB and get a couple chances with the rock,” Nicholson said. “But I’ve got to get the defense down pat first.”
With starting wide receiver Jovon Durante declaring early for the draft and former Auburn transfer Kyle Davis electing to transfer once again, finding playmaking pass catchers is one of FAU’s most important missions this recruiting period.
“He’s got the vision and the toughness,” Small said. “He makes moves on people. He runs away from people. His speed makes him so dynamic.”
Still, in a class loaded with potential game-breaking threats, FAU believes Nicholson is one of only four likely a defensive backs signed as part of FAU football’s 2019 recruiting class.
Nicholson believes his understanding of the game gives him an edge on the field.
“I can get on the field and know where I’m at and be in the right position at big moments,” he said.
Nicholson doesn’t care where he plays as long as he’s on the field.
Initially, that opportunity could come on special teams as a kick returner or punt returner.
“I like kick returns better than punt returns but I scored more times on punt returns, so I’m going to say punt returns is my favorite,” Nicholson said.
Though Nicholson committed to FAU during his recruiting visit the weekend before National Signing Day, most still thought he was committed to Southern Miss when he sat down at his signing day table. Five hats, including Southern Miss and FAU, rested on the table in front of him.
Nicholson faked a move to the Florida A&M cap before thrilling the audience by donning the FAU hat, signifying his change of mind and the beginning of his career as an Owl.
“It felt like I earned something,” Nicholson said.