Monday, January 5, 2009

Hakeem Nicks Is Making A Mistake

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/05/2009 No comments
University of North Carolina star wide receiver Hakeem Nicks announced today that he'll forgo his senior season to enter this year's NFL Draft. Some analysts predict that he'll be drafted in the second round, which is pretty good for the receiver position. But I see some eerie similarities to another receiver who left college early, which leads me to believe that Nicks is making a mistake.

Could Nicks meet the same fate as Carolina Panthers wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett? Like Nicks plans to, Jarrett left college after his junior season (at the University of Southern California). Like Nicks, Jarrett holds several of his college's receiving records (if I held records as a junior, I would be motivated to stay my senior year to put those records further out of reach). Like Nicks is projected, Jarrett was drafted in the second round. And I hope this is where the similarities end.

Jarrett has struggled greatly during his first two seasons in the NFL. His rookie year he only played in seven games, with 6 receptions for 73 yards. He didn't dress in several games as he struggled to adjust to the plays and receiving routes of the faster-paced professional game. This season was only slightly better: nine games (started one), 10 receptions, 119 yards. No disrespect, but Steve Smith gets that in a single game. I have to believe if Jarrett had stayed his final year in college, he could've improved his game. Instead, he struggled his rookie year in the pros, which has to have had a lingering psychological effect on him.

Nicks, I wish you luck. Though, I wish you'd stay. I'm not a Tar Heels fan, but I think you would be doing yourself and your team plenty of good by staying for your senior season.

I met Nicks in 2005 when he was a senior at Independence High School. I was writing a magazine feature on the Patriots' remarkable nation-leading win streak (it was 80-something straight wins at the time; the streak ended two years later at 109 games and seven state championships). While Independence has dominated Charlotte--and the state--high school football this decade, and has sent dozens of players to college teams (like quarterback Chris Leak who started for three and a half years at Florida and won the national championship in 2007), Nicks has the chance to become the most successful Independence alum in the NFL. His former high school teammate, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, is also likely to be drafted this year. Massaquoi just completed his senior season at Georgia and it should be noted that he nearly doubled his receiving stats from the year before.

And lastly, I think this is what sealed the deal for Nicks. He enjoyed playing on the big stage. When North Carolina played West Virginia last month in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Bank of America Stadium, Nicks had eight catches for a school bowl-record 217 yards and three touchdowns, including this unbelievable catch (see video below). And I know what a lot of local fans are going to start saying, that the Panthers should draft Nicks.


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