ATLANTA — Addison Nichols isn’t afraid to be a bit different.
That’s one of the reasons why Ohio State and its coaching staff like him so much.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive tackle at Greater Atlanta Christian School likes them, too. He has been in regular contact with Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes for months and feels very comfortable with them.
“It’s Coach Stud’s energy for sure — every time I call him, he answers and it sounds like he’s screaming into the phone,” Nichols said, giving a fairly decent Studrawa impression as he does. “You could be having the worst day ever, and then call him and your day gets better. You forget about everything that was going wrong. It’s just great energy, super optimistic.”
Nichols, the country’s No. 9-ranked offensive tackle prospect, seeks out the positives. He’s one of the more interesting recruits in the country, not because of what he does on the field, but what he does off of it. An Eagle Scout who plays three musical instruments, including the ukulele? Check. A second-degree black-belt in Tae Kwon Do? He’s also a part-owner of a real estate venture he’s funded on his own and has built E-commerce websites for good measure.
None of those things are entirely unique on their own, but when combined with a 3.77 GPA and being a top football prospect in high school? Now it paints a picture. This is a young person with a bright future, football or not.
But all those things? They make him a more complete football player, too.
“With musical instruments you’re using your brain, you’re activating your brain,” Nichols said. “Using your hands, and it’s using two different hands. So you’re being able to use your right and left, differently. Then with Tae Kwon Do, it’s about moving your feet, flexibility, all that stuff. It’s played a big role in where I am today.”
And that’s the kind of thing that makes him incredibly appealing to a program that promotes the uniqueness of its young people like Ohio State does. The Buckeyes locker room is full of kids that aren’t shy about expressing themselves, like fellow Georgian Harry Miller for example. Addison Nichols is going to fit in wherever he is because this is a kid who knows who he is, period. He knows what he wants to be. He sees Ohio State as a place that promotes the concept of being more than just a football player.
“Ohio State obviously sends a ton of guys to the NFL,” Nichols said. “But it seems like Coach Stud is really building his guys for the future. He helps make great young men, great husbands and businessmen, stuff like that.
“I feel like they have a lot to offer for what I want. I want to have the opportunity to go to the NFL to grow my life. and not to be successful not just in football. If football doesn’t work out, I still want to be good husband. A good businessmen and just a good person in society. I think it’s important to be shown wisdom and grow through someone else’s wisdom, like as Coach Stud or any coach for that matter.”
He wants to give wisdom, too. Most recruits are interested in playing football with kids just like them. While Nichols thinks that matters — culture always does — there’s some attraction to going somewhere he can help others find their own unique self.
“It doesn’t play into my decision much,” Nichols said. “But of course it’d be nice. It’d also be cool to be able to help other people if someone isn’t really like that. I like the idea of being able to kind of lead them, to help others grow. To help people who may need it mature a little bit. There’s some guys who need help.”
Nichols will make his first visit to Ohio State in June. He lives in Atlanta, but his father grew up in Florida and attended Florida State. His mother studied at Tennessee and his grandparents still live in Knoxville. The Volunteers will get one of his official visits, too.
USC, Georgia and Florida will also host Nichols and his family in June. For one of the most meticulous recruits in the country — it’s the truly rare recruit who has a resumé prepared — it still comes down to the old hits. Comfort and relationships, that’s what matters. That makes this summer’s college tour very important. That’s how he’ll know which place is right for him.
“I’ve done everything that I possibly can over a screen,” Nichols said. “I’m just really excited to be able to meet Coach Stud and see the place because you can only get so much off of a Zoom call. Just being able to feel the environment and meet the people, that’s what I need still. That’s why I’m doing all five official visits. I’m just getting them done.
“I’m going to go: Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. And that’ll definitely be the final thing for me. I’ve got all the information otherwise.”
Then when he’s done with that process, the nation’s most interesting recruit will move on to the next thing and dive into learning everything he can about that.
That’s how Addison Nichols makes himself different. And it’s not going to stop any time soon.