Glenwood’s Nicola catches on at Hawaii
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
He wasn’t always his team’s first receiving option, but when the ball came Bennett Nicola’s way, he typically made the grab.
No matter what it took to get his hands on the ball.
Acrobatic catches were the norm for the spindly Glenwood Springs High School graduate, a major cog in the Demons’ march to a state football title in 2008.
“He’s just a good athlete,” said former Glenwood quarterback Dakota Stonehouse, who’s tossed many a pass in Nicola’s direction in recent years. “He has all the tools and everything that you need to have. If I threw it high or I threw it low, he’d go get the ball. He had the ability to make the plays.”
Stonehouse isn’t the only one who took notice of Nicola’s skill.
The sure-handed receiver’s coordination and athletic ability certainly seized the attention of coaches at the University of Hawaii, where last month he successfully tried out and made the football roster as a walk-on.
“I originally went over there just for a high school camp,” Nicola said. “When I got over there, they said don’t even worry about the high school camp. I did seven-on-seven with the college guys – quarterbacks and receivers – for three days. I went into the coach’s office and talked to him and he said I made it.”
Nicola will grayshirt his freshman year, meaning he can’t participate with the team in an official capacity during the fall season. He’ll still be able to work out and bulk up his 6-foot-3 frame, though.
“When I tried out, the roster was full,” Nicola explained. “They couldn’t allow me to play right now. I’m on the team and I’ll train with them. … I won’t be able to go out and hit.”
That seems to sit well with the ex-Demon, who nervously wondered if his size would be an issue going into the tryout process. That concern quickly faded.
“I was really nervous about my size,” Nicola admitted. “Once I saw the guys, they weren’t too big. They were really fast. Once I got out there and started playing with them, it felt good catching the ball.”
Coaches assured Nicola that, once fully entrenched in Hawaii’s lifting program, the muscle will come.
Nicola brings plenty else to the table. And he’s been selling his qualities to Hawaii’s coaches for some time now.
“I continually kept calling the past year, keeping in touch,” he said, “making my name known.”
Hawaii’s been Nicola’s target for some time. The school offers his major of choice – marine biology – and a highly competitive football program.
“I visited two summers ago to see if I liked it,” Nicola said. “I talked to the receivers coach then and he said I had a good chance. Once that happened, I made my decision.”
Now Nicola hopes to parlay that decision into a solid collegiate career.
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