I don't have any doubt that Nicholas will be the quarterback for this team for the 2012 recruiting class. I'd be surprised if there's another quarterback in this recruiting class, unless that quarterback can play another position. And I don't think there's any doubt that fans love the fact that Nicholas is local and he's talented.
Let's get to it.
The Player Speaks: When Nicholas committed, he was one of four commits during the day. We'll get to the other three, but when those four committed, LAJ's Don Williams had a bit on all of them, including Nicholas' former head coach:
"I think he’s a stud," Spradlin said. "He’s a tremendous student of the game, a great, passionate field general. I mean, he’s got it all going on.
"He’s going to be a big kid — already is. All my (24) years coaching, I don’t think I’ve had as good an arm as Clay has and just all the intangibles."
"It’s just the way it comes out of his hand — he’s got a great release," Spradlin said. "And he’s got all the intangibles. Boy, he’s savvy and smart. He only threw seven interceptions in 13 games, and four of those were late in the half, not late in games. He just has a great presence about him."
Nicholas also talked with the Abilene Reporter News about Texas Tech's offense:
"Their offense is a spread offense, just like us," Nicholas said. "They've been throwing the ball about 50 times a game. That's what I like to do. I don't like to just hand off the ball. I like to get it into the receivers hands and let them go to work, let the O-line protect me. I think they'll get the job done there."
And he also mentions his relationship with offensive coordinator, Neal Brown:
"We've been talking on the phone about every day the past two weeks, getting to know each other," Nicholas said. "We've got a good relationship going. The other day, they told me they just got a big 6-6 receiver, and they needed somebody to get it to him. I said, 'I'll be that guy.' he said, 'All right, we've got a new Red Raider.'"
And if you'd like to see Nicholas talk a bit about his commitment, on real live video, check out KTXS in Abilene.
The Video: Video don't lie:
Clayton Nicholas Junior Highlights (via thestripeisonfire)
Scouting Report: Nicholas threw for 3,003 yards, completing 65.7% of his passes, 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. For those of you interested in passing yards per attempt, Nicholas threw for 10.1 yards/attempt. The other interesting thing is that Nicholas only rushed for 43 yards for the entire season. Obviously, you have sacks included in that, but despite having a fake 40-yard dash time of 4.71, which is fast enough, Nicholas is sticking in the pocket and throwing the ball.
So in looking at his video, what stands out to me is that Nicholas has really nice touch, a bit of a wind-up on his throw, but nothing that concerns me. The ball needs to be up by his ear, not by his chest, when he's setting up in the pocket. I really like his touch on the ball in getting it out in the flat, to his running backs and obviously, his deep pass is really nice. You get a little concerned that's he's throwing into double-coverage at times, but with only 7 interceptions last year, it's hard to complain.
Also wanted to mention this article from Dave Campbell's Texas Football, Greg Teppers, who has this bit:
You have Nicholas, whom we’ve already discussed. At 6-3, 205 pounds, Nicholas has all the trademarks of a Tech quarterback: tall, rocket arm, from West Texas, a bit of a gunslinger. He’ll be a freshman, but there’s no reason to think he won’t press for the job.
Teppers then goes on to talk about all of the options available at quarterback at Texas Tech, but what got me thinking is that right now, there really isn't a "trademark" quarterback at Texas Tech. Jacob Karam and are more similar to each other, while Seth Doege, Scotty Young and Nicholas seem more similar. As of this time, both Brewer and Nicholas are OC Brown commits, and you could probably throw Young in there as well as he stayed on board with Texas Tech after Brown was named as the offensive coordinator. Brown has mentioned that he doesn't mind if the quarterback is more mobile than not, but I also don't think that he's married to that concept. You get the quarterback that is the most talented and you slightly tweak your system to fit his style. That seems about right.
UPDATE: Wanted to update Christopher Jelliffe's comment with a link and blockquote. From early April of 2011, per ESPN, the Elite 11 Regional Quarterback Camp was held and Nicholas impressed:
A prospect we liked very much coming into the day, but has not received a lot of attention was Texas Tech verbal commit Clayton Nicholas of Cooper (Abilene, Texas). He did not have a single offer until Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders came calling, despite very impressive film work and a consistent demonstration in games that he could make all the throws at the next level and do it with a smooth stroke. Nicholas showed that stroke on Saturday, but it is clear he is exclusively accustomed to working from the shotgun, because he does not yet exhibit the proper footwork, setup balance and quickness you would like to see. Therefore he was inconsistent in his overall accuracy. There is no debating his natural arm strength or wrist velocity and once he gets coached up on footwork, he could really be good because he does the other things naturally and he is blessed with good size. Tuberville got a nice steal here.
Clayton, welcome to Texas Tech and Git Your Guns Up!
The 2011 Class: No tables until more rankings are released.