The Kentucky Wildcats have made their reputation during the Mark Stoops era on having a tough, no-nonsense defense filled with high-end athletes.
By Steve Wright
Stoops will have another weapon to work with as of 2022 – and one with college experience – as the Wildcats have captured the commitment of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cornerback DeCarlos Nicholson.
Nicholson – who went to high school in Petal, Mississippi – is a massive player by cornerback standards. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds he is built more like a safety than a corner – or even a hybrid linebacker – and Nicholson is rated by the 247Sports Composite Rankings as the No. 5 JuCo player in the nation, the No. 1 JuCo cornerback, and the No. 3 JuCo prospect in Mississippi. Nicholson chose the Wildcats over finalists including Mississippi State and Florida State.
Nicholson is an interesting prospect because he is essentially a blank canvas. His sophomore season at MGS CC saw him shift from quarterback to cornerback, allowing him to focus on the position for the first time. Flipping Nicholson from Mississippi State to Kentucky allows him to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Brandin Echols and Lonnie Johnson, players that Kentucky developed from JuCo stats into NFL draft picks.
There are few highlights of Nicholson playing cornerback at the moment – because most of his play is as a quarterback – but the video below showcases his work. The first play shows Nicholson being able to shadow his receiver downfield and prevent a completion by reading the ball in the air. Nicholson will need technique work, but he is able to close on the ball at the last minute because he has fluid hips and a nice burst at the end of the play. The second play is also one Kentucky fans should like as it shows his reading of the game is further along than you might expect. Nicholson will learn to use his hands in press coverage and as a tackler and he will be a big-time asset for Stoops and his staff.