"I have decided to file the paperwork necessary to enter the 2009 NFL Draft," said Nicks. "I met with Coach (Butch) Davis after the game and I appreciate the feedback he gave me and the support he has provided during the decision-making process. His contacts in the NFL are invaluable."
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Nicks made several outstanding catches against the Mountaineers, and posted touchdown grabs of 73, 66 and 25 yards in the first half. His 217 yards receiving were the second-most by a Tar Heel, and he became just the third player in school history to post a 200-yard receiving game. His behind-the-back catch against West Virginia was ESPN's No. 1 play of the bowl season.
"Carolina has been a special place for me," said Nicks. "I want to thank my teammates, the coaching staff and the Tar Heel fans for supporting me during my three years in Chapel Hill. It was a dream come true to play at UNC. I look forward to representing North Carolina in the NFL."
"I spoke to several different NFL people on Hakeem's behalf before the bowl game, including coaches, general managers, owners, and position coaches," said head coach Butch Davis, who coached 10 years in the NFL with Dallas and Cleveland. "We also submitted paperwork to the NFL advisory committee. I shared all of this information with Hakeem in Charlotte after the bowl game and I know he is making a thoughtful and informed decision. I believe he has the physical and mental makeup to be a productive NFL player for many years. We will always be thankful to Hakeem for what he has done for this program and the exciting times he provided the Carolina fans."
In just three seasons, Nicks has established 14 school records at UNC, including career receptions (181), career receiving yards (2,580) and career touchdowns (21). In his senior season, Nicks was named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference after catching 68 passes for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is the only player in UNC history with more than 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Nicks surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark five times in 2008 and 10 times in his career, both UNC records. He led the ACC and ranks 12th in the country with 94.0 yards per game. The only three-year player in ACC history with more career receiving yards than Nicks is former Georgia Tech All-America and 2007 NFL first-round pick Calvin Johnson.
In 2007, Nicks set the UNC single-season record with 74 receptions. Nicks finished his career with 14 Carolina receiving records.