By Adam Biggers
Keith Nichol couldn't help but be pleased with his performance March 14 during Michigan State's NFL Pro Day in East Lansing.
The multi-tooled former Spartans wide receiver set out to show scouts what he was capable of—and he did. Shuttle runs, sprints, catching drills—Nichol excelled at them all, displaying his A-game to those on-hand at the Spartans' training facility near Spartans Stadium.
"I did what I thought I was capable of doing—stuff people weren't sure I was able to do, or do as well," said Nichol, who is best known for his game-winning Hail Mary catch against Wisconsin in October. "I think I showed up and did well. I think I really proved that I am one of the most, if not the most, versatile in this draft class."
However, Nichol is elated that his Pro Day is in the past.
"It was a good day, and I'm glad that I was able to perform the way I did—but I'm glad I have it behind me," Nichol said.
The NFL Draft is just weeks away in April. There has been a "growing interest" in Nichol, but he doesn't want to get ahead of himself, so he didn't disclose the names of the teams he's talked to. The draft is like a "poker game," he says. Although he's optimistic about his chances come April, he's staying humble and awaiting the outcome.
He could be taken as a special teams player, or he could be taken as a utility player. But getting to the NFL is all that matters.
"Everything I've read is (that I'm considered) a late-round pick or free agent," Nichol said. "It's very realistic. I'm prepared for both. At the end of the day, it's about making the team, making the roster and being productive."
Greg Jones, a former All-American linebacker at Michigan State, is more than confident in Nichol, his good friend. Jones was a late-round draft pick taken by the New York Giants in 2011. He went on to win Super Bowl XLVI with the team as a valuable contributor on special teams, finishing the season with 31 tackles.
Like with Nichol, there were doubts about Jones' potential in the NFL. At 6-feet-even and 248 pounds, he was considered undersized for an NFL linebacker. Critics weren't sure where he would find his niche. But he proved them wrong, and he feels Nichol will do the same.
"He's just a pure athlete," Jones said. "He also played quarterback for awhile, he played wide receiver. I think (his potential) is endless—what he can do. Not to mention, he can play special teams. He can do it all. He's probably one of the most versatile guys out there."
Jones was impressed on how quickly Nichol picked up Michigan State's offense after transferring from Oklahoma in 2009. Nichol's aptitude, along with athleticism, will serve him well at the next level, says Jones.
"He can basically do anything—wherever you want to put him at," Jones said. "He's definitely going to be a utility player. As a far as a receiver, I think he's a guy who can come in on third down and keep the chains moving. I think he's somebody (NFL teams) can use."
Regardless of what happens, or what position he ends up playing, Nichol is ready to meet upcoming challenges head-on. He's become used to proving his abilities, and doing so in the NFL won't be any different than what it was in college.
"Ultimately, you don't do it to prove people wrong, you do it for yourself,' Nichol said. "You do it for the people around you, your family, the people I really care about. You do it for yourself."