Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nichols is number nineteen | by Pat

Recruiting took another quick turn when the second Kentucky player offered a scholarship to Notre Dame committed instantly and became the 19th member of the 2010 class. Offensive tackle Tate Nichols visited campus this past weekend and as soon as ND offered, he accepted.

"I didn't have a scholarship offer going up there," Nichols said. "They had a version of my highlight film that wasn't high quality. I brought another one, from my senior year. They really liked it and they offered me a scholarship.

"... I'm a Catholic kid and it's closer to home. It's a perfect fit."

The closer to home bit references Stanford, where Nichols previously had been committed. He had backed away slightly the past few weeks from his Cardinal verbal and decided to make a clean break this weekend. That makes Nichols the third recruit this year to switch from Stanford to Notre Dame (Badger, Jones).

Two of the three main recruiting sites considered Nichols a tight end recruit and as such didn't slot him very high. Both Scout and Rivals tabbed Nichols as a 2-star tight end recruit with Scout considering him the 52nd overall TE. ESPN did list him as an offensive lineman, giving him 3-stars, a 75 grade rating, and a ranking as the 101st overall offensive tackle recruit.

Update: These were his rankings on Saturday when he committed. Today, Tuesday morning, Scout has changed him to a 3-star offensive line prospect and the #71 overall OT recruit.

It seems the confusion over his future college position was somewhat warranted when the recruiting sites added him to their databases a year ago. Nichols originally committed to Stanford in March of 2009 as a 6'7" 230 pounder that was told he would get a shot at TE. Now though he's pushing 275 according to self reports and Tate has acknowledged that his future lies at offensive tackle. As he started to back away from his Stanford verbal, Illinois, North Carolina State, and Michigan started increase communications. Part of the increase in weight is due to Tate just continuing to grow. Part of it though appears to be the result of working with the same personal trainer that Kyle Rudolph (who is also distantly related to Nichols) used to get ready for college. Here's Tate's senior highlight tape that mainly still shows him as a tight end, but includes some examples of him blocking.

Despite the recent added weight, Nichols will still be a bit of a project as most of his time in high school was spent at tight end or defensive end. ND needed more linemen in this class though so assuming the overall OL numbers stay high (and ND is able to haul in at least another tackle prospect like Matt James) Nichols should have time to work in the weight room and learn how to play offensive tackle. College is filled with high school tight ends who turn into solid offensive tackles, so he certainly has a good shot at turning into a dependable player with a lot of hard work and solid coaching.

Speaking of overall numbers, here is how the offensive line depth chart breaks down for the 2010 season. With a new staff, new line coach, and plenty of guys who haven't seen much action, I'm not going to separate tackles from guards here. After spring ball we should have a better idea of where the new staff will slot them. Remember that players with an asterisk have an additional year of eligibility.

5th Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman
Dan Wenger
Andrew Nuss*
Trevor Robinson
Chris Watt*
Christian Lombard
Chris Stewart
Matt Romine*
Lane Clelland*
Zach Martin*
Tate Nichols

Taylor Dever*
Braxston Cave*
Alex Bullard*

Mike Golic*