Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nicks not into the guessing game

It would only make sense for the New York Giants to take Hakeem Nicks with 29th pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday.

The Giants, a season removed from a historic Super Bowl upset, need a receiver after parting ways with Plaxico Buress, a troubled but big-play receiver.

Nicks, UNC's record-setting receiver, fits the bill and figures to be available when the Giants are on the clock. Not that Nicks has packed his bags for New York.

"That just sets you up for the okey-doke," Nicks said today. "I'm not going to get my hopes of going somewhere and then end up going somewhere else."

If the Giants are sweet on Nicks, who became the first 1,000-yard receiver in UNC history in 2008, he isn't saying. Nicks said he has been too busy traveling and working out for teams to keep tabs on his predicted future.

He said he has recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered at the NFL Combine in February. The injury caused his weight to briefly spike to 225 pounds. Given the nature of draft speculation — taken to new heights in the wireless age — the weight gain was the end of Nicks' career.

Now that he's back down to 212 pounds, the world's back on its axis.

"I try not to get caught up in all that," Nicks said of the mock drafts and pre-draft hoopla. "I knew what I had to do [after the injury] and I'm back to being healthy."

Nicks said he's trying to relax before Saturday's draft. He plans on watching the ESPN telecast from his couch with his family in Charlotte.

With some distance since his epic performance in UNC's Meineke Bowl loss to West Virginia, Nicks has had some time to digest his college career. He leaves UNC, after just three seasons, with 14 school records, including the career marks for receptions (181), yards (2,580) and touchdowns (21). One mark, the single-season record of 1,222 yards, stands out the most because Nicks was the first Tar Heel receiver to break the 1,000-yard barrier.

"That's the one record that can't be broken," Nicks said. "Only one person gets to be the first."

Nicks will have company on Saturday. He figures to be one of six receivers taken in the first round and maybe five ACC players in the first round. He's also one of three UNC receivers who could be picked.

Not bad for a kid who couldn't crack Charlotte Independence's powerful lineup until his senior season. Former UNC coach John Bunting offered Nicks a scholarship before he was an established varsity receiver at Independence.

"I'll always be thankful to him," Nicks said. "Coach Bunting gave me the opportunity to play [at UNC]."

-- J.P. Giglio


Anonymous said...

Hakeem Nicks is a stud. I'll be very surprised if he does not have an outstanding NFL career.