November 21, 2003

Gators Ready to Offer Pa. Tight End

Senior: Rory Nicol

School: Beaver (Pa.) Area HS

Positions: Tight End and Outside Linebacker

Size and Speed: Nicol is 6-5, weighs 245 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds. Nicol bench presses 300 pounds and squats 420 pounds.

Statistics: His senior season, Nicol caught 18 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, he had 65 tackles and seven sacks. As a junior, he had 15 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown.

Favorite Schools: Ohio State, Tennessee, Boston College, Virginia, Florida and Pittsburgh.

Skinny: In today's football game, in order for most teams to run a fairly successful offense, a talented tight end is needed. In recent years, some of the best tight ends have come out of the University of Miami where they have showcased NFL Pro Bowlers Jeremy Shockey and Bubba Franks.

In this year's tight end talent pool, Miami has another great tight end in Kellen Winslow Jr. While Winslow is grabbing attention on the field with his play and off the field with his verbal antics, one tight end who is clearly leaving it all out on the field is Florida senior Ben Troupe.

Troupe is departing at season's end and the Gators will have a huge void to fill when he leaves. The Gators have a new target in their sights and are honing in on Rory Nicol from Beaver (Pa.) Area High School.

The Gators have not yet offered Nicol but Nicol will make an official visit to Gainesville when Florida welcomes in-state rival Florida State Thanksgiving weekend. Even without an offer, Area head coach Jeff Beltz dubs the situation a "formality of the tape" and is sure when Nicol arrives in Gainesville he will be sporting an offer from the Orange and Blue.

"I think it will be done but the folks down there just need to get tape," Beltz said. "They just need to verify it. I think it is just a formality."

Beltz remains confident that Nicol will be going to Gainesville on an official visit.

"That official visit will take place," Beltz said.

Area's season came to an end in the regional semifinals, finishing the season 10-2. On the season, Nicol caught 18 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. They aren't whopping numbers but that is because Area primarily runs the ball and Nicol is a vital part of the blocking up front. On the season, Area rushed for just under 2,800 yards and Nicol was a big contributor blocking for the running backs.

"He is a dominant point of attack blocker at tight end," Beltz said. "But he does have a lot of good skills downfield."

His blocking skills and his ability to catch the football has many around the country on notice. has given Nicol a four-star rating and ranks him as the fourth best tight end in the nation.

Nicol has over 40 offers but has begun to dwindle down his list of teams. Along with his visit to Florida, Nicol has scheduled visits to Pittsburgh on Dec. 5, Virginia on Dec. 12 and Ohio State on Dec. 19, according to Rivals.

Beltz added that Boston College and Tennessee are in the mix as well.

"I know he is going to go through these visits and take them for an open opportunity," Beltz said. "He is not just going out to experiment and go places. He is going to find out if he should attend any of those schools."

But do not get any thought about Nicol developing into an offensive lineman. He may be a superior blocker but he has one position on his mind.

"We have been very open about him wanting to play tight end," Beltz said. "I know there are programs that play with tight ends 270 pounds but we have been very honest with people."

The Gators are one of the latest teams to jump into the picture for Nicol. The Gators usually don't recruit Pennsylvania but when word spread that Nicol might be interested in playing for the Gators, recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley pounced on the situation and the Gators are now in good standing for Nicol.

"The situation there (Florida) is one he (Nicol) needed to look into because of the need for a tight end in the future," Beltz said.

Nicol's father is a pilot for U.S. Airways and spent much of the summer traveling via plane or car. He traveled to Florida State, North Carolina, Ohio State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Syracuse.

Nicol is going to leave his high school program as one of the most recruited players in school history. Area has not had a player with this type of hype in over 20 years and this is the first time in Beltz's four-year reign. Beltz was very glad to have the opportunity to coach Nicol.

"I guess the point everyone loves, is this kid's passion for the game when you watch him on tape," Beltz said. "You can see how he enjoys the play and blocks. That is a rarity because he is a little bit of a throwback player."

But being a great athlete is only one of Nicol's best attributes.

"He is a tremendous leader, on top of being a good athlete," Beltz said. "He cares about his teammates."

Nicol is a three-sport athlete, participating in basketball and track, where he runs the 110 hurdles and throws the discus. His high school career is over but Beltz has no doubts about his future.

"I know he is going to be a tremendous college football player," Beltz said.

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