But its his desire to learn how to prepare food that allowed him to make a recent decision on his future.
The Ridgeland senior announced on Friday that he will play football at Oklahoma State University and enroll in the schools culinary arts program in hopes of fulfilling his dream of becoming a chef.
Nicholas, one of the states top defensive end/tight end prospects, made the decision after a recent weekend visit to the Stillwater, Okla. campus last week.
I can cook it up a little bit, Nicholas laughed. I love to cook. I love to eat more, but I like to cook what I eat and its been something Ive wanted to do for a long time. (OSUs) long snapper is in the culinary arts program too and he showed me around. It was nice. They have a restaurant called Taylors that the kids in the program run. Its going to be a lot of fun.
Nicholas ended his senior season with 70 tackles, including 15 for loss, as he helped the Panthers make their second straight appearance in the state playoffs.
He toured the campus and the town with Cowboys standout receiver Adarius Bowman, the older brother of Ridgeland junior receiver Mike Bowman, and Richetti Jones, a freshman defensive end from Dallas, Texas.
It was a lot of fun, he said. I had a great time with all the coaches and the facilities, the culinary arts program and the additions to the football stadium were outstanding. It was a great experience.
He added that Oklahoma States coaches gave him the option of choosing which position he would play.
They were recruiting me at tight end, he explained. But (Junior defensive end Brandon) Pettigrew is leaving for the NFL and they said I could pick which position I wanted to play. I chose defensive end because I like playing defense better.
Ridgeland head coach Mark Mariakis, who accompanied Nicholas on his visit, said he believed Nicholas maturation process on two different levels will allow him to excel at the Division I football level.
Obviously he matured physically, Mariakis said. He really sold out in the weight room and now has the physical body to play at a major Division I level. But he also matured in his technique. He realized about midway through his junior year that brute strength wouldnt be enough and he needed to improve his technique. He became even more coachable on both sides of the ball after that.
Mariakis added that Nicholass desire to become a chef spoke highly of his maturity.
Its all hes talked about since I met him four years ago and it says something about him that he made that goal such a big part of his college decision, he added. Nigel is a unique kid. Hes a physical specimen, but he just controls a room with his personality. People naturally flock to him.
Id love to have a 100 more of him just because of the type of person he is. You dont have any doubts about putting him out in the community to represent Ridgeland football.
There is also the chance that Nicholas may have some Ridgeland company at Oklahoma State in the next few years as the Cowboys have a high interest in Bowman and junior running back Terryl Freeman.
Nicholas had originally committed to Duke University last spring, but began looking again after head coach Ted Roof was fired following a 1-11 season.
He said Dukes new head coach David Cutcliffe, a former offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, called last week to see if Nicholas still had interest in the Blue Devils. Ironically, another former Tennessee assistant, Trooper Taylor, was recently hired as Oklahoma States new offensive coordinator.
Coach Cutcliffe wanted to see if there was a chance I would still come to Duke, but Im told him no, Nicholas said. I know Oklahoma State is where I want to go.