The 90 Illini #86: Taz Nicholson
Yes, his name is Tahveon, but if he wants to go by Taz, I want to call him Taz. It's the same with Quan Martin. The roster lists him as Jartavius Martin, but his teammates call him Quan. I asked him which he prefers, he said Quan, so Quan it is.
(I guess I should ask Nicholson the same question before I go around calling him Taz. Maybe he hates Taz.)
86. Taz Nicholson
Uniform number: unknown - Freshman Jersey Number Day isn't here yet
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 5'-11" -- Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
High School: Robert E. Lee HS
Prep School: Palmetto Prep, Columbia, South Carolina
Best offers: Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, Florida A&M
Tom Cruise rating: 1.5 Cruises
Nicholson originally committed to Florida Atlantic. Actually, he originally committed to Southern Mississippi. I should go over that.
He commits to Southern Miss in the 2019 recruiting class. On Signing Day, he flips and grabs the Florida Atlantic hat. He then doesn't qualify academically and has to go to prep school. He does a year of prep school in South Carolina, the coach who recruiting him at FAU is now at Illinois (Keynodo Hudson), he gets and offer so he signs with Illinois.
It's worth noting that this is Jadon Thompson's scholarship. They don't play the same position, but here's the timeline: All freshmen sign in December except for 4-star Jadon Thompson. Much like Coran Taylor a few years ago, the staff wanted to see his first semester grades to cross-check his qualification with the Admissions Department and then he'd sign in February. Taylor made the grades and signed in February. Thompson... didn't sign with Illinois and instead signed with Cincinnati.
Thompson didn't sign and then Nicholson was announced a few days later. So, for whatever it's worth, Thompson's grades opened the door for Nicholson at Illinois. Doesn't mean anything, really - that's just how we landed on a prep school kid late in the process.
When he signed with FAU in 2019, there was this article that talked about Charlie Weis (the OC at FAU) and the FAU defensive coordinator "fighting" over his services, so apparently it wasn't certain whether he was going to be a WR or a DB for them. At Illinois, I think it's fairly certain he's going to be a DB. Partly because he was recruited by Hudson for the position he coaches, but also because of the numbers on the roster. Especially after adding Brian Hightower and Desmond Dan this spring, there's a bigger need in the defensive backfield than at wideout. So I'm almost certain Nicholson starts as a DB.
And I'm guessing "DB" means cornerback. He's the tiny/fast kind of athlete, and tiny/fast athletes are usually cornerbacks. Not many 168 lb. safeties in the Big Ten.
We're set at cornerback for now, so redshirt him and see what you have in the future. This year the starters are Tony Adams and Nate Hobbs and the next few years after that the starters will be Devon Witherspoon and Marquez Beason. So redshirt him and then bring him along slowly behind Witherspoon and Beason.