After he transferred to MSU from Oklahoma following his freshman year of college, Keith Nichol always has been out to prove himself.
Coming in as a quarterback, Nichol saw his playing time quickly evaporate in favor of Kirk Cousins. As a former duel-threat player at Lowell High School in Lowell, Mich., he found success moving to wide receiver prior to the 2010 Alamo Bowl, where he caught two passes and scored his first career rushing touchdown. He later shined in catching the 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Cousins on the final play of the game to beat Wisconsin during the 2011 season.
Nichol was one of 24 former Spartans who was eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft in April who worked out for scouts and coaches at Wednesday’s MSU Pro Day at Duffy Daugherty Football Building. And with a chance to make a leap to the professional ranks quickly approaching, Nichol once again is looking to prove himself.
“I just was trying to shape myself and show everyone that I’m the most versatile player out there in the country and that I can do a lot of things,” Nichol said. “I wish I could have thrown a little bit better — my legs were a little bit shot there at the end — but that’s all right though. If (NFL teams) want me to throw for them, I’ll throw for them in personal workouts (when) I’m a little bit more fresh.
“I thought as a receiver, I showed up really well, and if I thought I looked good compared to B.J. (Cunningham) and Keshawn (Martin), which are top big-time receivers, I feel good about that walking away.”
During his time at MSU, Nichol played in 37 career games after his transfer from Oklahoma, including 14 starts. In a backup role behind Cousins, Nichol complete 53-of-98 of his passes (54 percent) for 826 yards and nine touchdowns. Following his switch to wide receiver, Nichol caught 50 passes for 625 yards and four touchdowns in his new role.
According to ESPN’s draft rankings, Nichol is the 72nd best wide receiver in the draft and is rated a 30 out of a possible 100 on the draft scale.
Looking to demonstrate his versatility at Wednesday’s Pro Day, Nichol saw action at both quarterback and wide receiver in an effort to make himself stand out to the 31 NFL teams present for the showcase. And for fellow draft prospect Cunningham, Nichol did exactly that.
“Keith stood out. I feel like he opened up a lot of eyes,” Cunningham said. “In my eyes, I feel like he should have been invited to the Combine, but he did what he had to do. He came out, caught every pass and ran crispy, great routes. Like I said, I feel like he opened up a lot of eyes out here, and I’m proud of him.”
With the draft a little more than a month away, all Nichol can do now is wait and prepare for a chance to play on the professional level. And if given the chance, Cousins said Nichol will prove himself again.
“He showed that in the testing, and then he’s turned himself into a polished wide receiver, and he proved that in the throwing and his receiving,” Cousins said. “He’s a very versatile athlete and a guy who can do a lot of things for a team. It’s just a matter of at the end of April which team would like to get him.”
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