Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nicks focused on present, not future

CHAPEL HILL - North Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks said recently he hasn't decided yet whether he will jump to the NFL next year because he wants to concentrate on this season.

Meanwhile, coach Butch Davis doesn't plan to talk to him about it until after UNC plays its final game of the year.

"Hakeem and I have had discussions prior to the start of the season, and after we had those discussions, it's 'play as great at you can, don't worry about that.' When the season is overwith, he and I will sit down with his family, we'll take a look [at it] realistically,'' Davis said.

"I've had ongoing conversations with a high percentage of the NFL teams already - GMs, coaches and scouts - about this year's seniors, so I can give good advice to Brandon [Tate], to Brooks [Foster] and Trimane [Goddard]. ... When the season is over with, we'll make the same calls as it would relate to Hakeem."

Davis, who has made similar calls for juniors in his past coaching jobs, said there are a lot of factors that should be considered when an underclassman is deciding whether to leave school early: Is he physically ready? Career-wise, is he ready? What is the marketplace - meaning how many players at his position are also in the draft?

"What if Kentwan [Balmer] had gone out a year before, where would he have been?" Davis asked, referring to UNC's star defensive lineman last season. "Maybe not drafted, maybe in the sixth or seventh round. He stayed for one more year, and ended up going in the first round. So it made him a fortune."

Nicks last weekend became UNC's career leader in receiving yards. When he was asked last month whether he had made a decision about the NFL, he said: "I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't cross my mind. But I'm at the point right now where I know I'm out here putting up numbers, and it's definitely catching their eye. But I don't want to focus on that; I want to focus on the remainder of the season we've got, and winning out this season and doing great things for this university. And I'm still happy to be here at the moment."

-- Robbi Pickeral