Cavalier Corner

December 2015 Issue

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Page 36 of 52

BY BRAD FRANKLIN F OR THE FIRST 30 GAMES of his college football career, Demetri- ous Nicholson took the field as a starter at cornerback for Virginia. And the former four-star recruit had the makings of big-time contributor, racking up 116 tackles in his first two seasons. But in the third quarter of that fifth game of his third-year campaign, Nicholson suffered a toe injury that would rob him of not only the rest of the 2013 season, but it also caused him to take a medical redshirt the following year. So the Virginia Beach native went into this summer, his last in Charlottesville, not only look- ing to help UVA get back to a bowl game, but also hoping to find his niche in the secondary. "It was just a grind," Nicholson said of coming back from the injury, which required surgery. "I feel like I was just in a valley, just trying to climb my way out. But my teammates, and just trying to be a leader to the young guys, that was my focus." True to form, Nicholson was still the elder statesman of the Cavaliers' secondary, even if he hadn't really played in almost two years. "Having guys ask me questions about things, it actually really helped me out a lot and helped bring me back to where I needed to be, under- standing the work I needed to put in," he ex- plained. "I wasn't really focusing on all of the time I missed. I really just focused on my last year and having fun out there this year." Ankles and feet, for defensive backs, are what they count on most. And it took some time before Nicholson, ever the positive-outlook type, to trust his again. "It was this summer sometime, during seven- on-sevens," he recalled. "Going against our guys, doing drills on our own and being able to really plant and really run, that's when I started to trust it. "I just felt good again and thought, 'This is my last year and I don't want to waste any energy or any of my thoughts worrying about my foot.' I just needed to focus on what's ahead of me and not worry about the past." Nicholson has already done so much in his time at Virginia. He was an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee; he was on the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, given annually for exemplary community service and academic THE GRINDER Redshirt Fourth-Year Cornerback Demetrious Nicholson Has Fought His Way Back From A Serious Injury

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