What led you to this decision?
“It was something that I just prayed about and based on my feedback that I’ve gotten back from filling out the paperwork. Mainly a lot of prayer. After talking with Coach Davis, and [the fact] that I played my best college game in the bowl game.”
Was this something that you had decided before the bowl game?
“No, because I was still in the process of praying about and thinking about it. And I knew I still had to talk to Coach Davis and there was still some feedback that I needed to get. So pretty much before bowl game, I was just focusing on playing in the bowl game and being with my teammates.”
On making the decision:
“I felt like I was ready for a new challenge in my life. I love Carolina. I’m going to always be a Tar Heel and I’ll always root for them in the future, but I felt like it was just another challenge for me to be ready to step up to.”
Where did the feedback tell you that you might end up in the draft?
“The feedback told me I was second round before the bowl game.”
What’s your workout going to be over the next several months?
“I’m planning on going out and training for that, and just getting prepared mentally and physically. Running some good times in the shuttle and 40 and just going out there, being blessed and preparing well.”
Will you participate in the NFL combine?
“I haven’t gotten any feedback on that yet, since I just declared today. But I don’t have feedback on that right now.”
On his conversation with Davis after the bowl game:
“We talked a lot and he gave us some feedback on some things that he heard, which was some pretty good feedback. He told me whatever decision I made, he was always going to be in my corner. He said he would always be a Hakeem Nicks fan. Coach Davis played a great aspect and a great deal into my decision. He helped me out a lot to make my decision, and I feel like he’s behind me 100 percent, as well as our whole coaching staff and the team.”
With this program’s turnaround, have you thought any about what you may be missing next season?
“Yes, I’ve thought about it a lot. But like I said, it was just something that I had to pray about. I had to look at this situation as what was better for me. I love being at Carolina and Carolina is always a home for me, but I just had to look at it and see what was best for me in this situation… I feel like I made a great decision.”
Where there a cutoff point of how low you were willing to be drafted?
“Probably in the third or fourth round, somewhere in between there is probably where I would have considered coming back.”
Have you talked to any former players for help?
“I haven’t any really talked to anybody. I’ve talked to Kentwan [Balmer] a few times, and he told me basically, ‘To make the best decision that you have to make for you.’ He was pretty much behind me in my situation.”
Is getting a college degree still a goal of yours?
“That’s definitely still a goal of mine. I’m actually close to it because I’m right on schedule to graduate. So I’ll talk it over with the academic staff and we’ll try to get together a little game plan so that I can still make sure that I get that. I’ll probably have to take this semester off because I’ll be training a lot, but as soon as I get the next available free time, I will be starting to take some more classes towards my degree.”
Have you heard from any pro scouts about things you need to work on?
“No, I really haven’t gotten a sense of that. I just want to keep doing what I do on the field and get better at it. Work on my feet and work on my speed and acceleration.”
Did the bowl game play a big role in your decision?
“It had a lot. I felt like I would know in my spirit what to do after that game. I had prayed a lot during the week and I stayed to myself a lot during the week in the room, reading Scripture and whatever. I felt like after the outcome of that game, I would know and I would feel good about whatever decision I chose to make.”
“After the bowl game was over with, Hakeem and I probably spent the better part of an hour and thirty to an hour and forty-five minutes [talking]. The role that I tried to play was to help educate Hakeem on as many different aspects of making this decision – financial decisions, education decisions as it would relate to his degree, agents. All of the different dynamics that play a role. As I told Hakeem, ‘I love you and I’m going to support you if you come back or if you leave,’ so this is truly about Hakeem Nicks… All of these decisions are uniquely different with every single kid.”
UNC has not had a player leave early in seven years. Is this a sign of the improvement of this program?
“It’s evidence that Hakeem is ready to challenge the next level. A true indication of your program is when you start having a significant number of guys to make it on the NFL rosters. Not all of them are going to get drafted [and] not all of them are going to be first-day selections.
"The hallmark of your program is when you get guys drafted and you get some guys signed as free agents and you’re starting the get 5-6-7-8 guys every single year that you know you’re starting to build that kind of consistency and that kind of talent level.
"I can tell you this year that the number of scouts from organizations was dramatically higher than it had been in 2007, just because of the number of kids that we expect to have good opportunities this spring. Hopefully, it’s a trend that will continue into the future.”
On where Nicks may be drafted:
“One of the things I did was reach out, not only to general managers and people in management at different NFL clubs, but also reaching out to assistant coaches, guys that I know. And hopefully with the better part of 10 years of experience in the National Football League, I was able to share some things with Hakeem. Because nobody – not one single club or the NFL office – no one is going to stick their neck out and say specifically, ‘I know for a fact that you’re going to get drafted at this particular point.’
“All they will do is give you ranges, because there’s no way to project today how many juniors are going to come out… I think that most everybody feels pretty confident that he’s probably going to have a great chance to be a first-day draft selection.”
Do you expect any other underclassmen to leave the program, in particular Cam Sexton or Mike Paulus?
“As of right now, I don’t have any information that would lead us to believe that.”