With the news on June 28 that Dadi Nicolas (formerly Wedley Estime) was arrested for felony larceny as a principal in the second degree and subsequently suspended from the football team, I think it's time to examine the ramifications it will have to the defense and the defensive line rotations.
I preview the projected two-deep on the Hokies defensive line as well as Nicolas' potential impact should he have been able to crack the rotation of defensive ends. Also I have more information and links about the crime he allegedly committed, and how this affects our program, all after the jump.
First off, for those of you who had not heard about Nicolas' arrest, we'll start with the details of the arrest per the Washington Post:
"According to the arrest warrant filed by the Virginia Tech police department at the Montgomery County General District Court in Blacksburg, Nicolas was charged as a principal in the crime, which in Virginia means he was an accomplice who did not actually participate in the crime. It is still a second-degree felony charge, however.
The arrest warrant said the object in question was a bicycle, and that the incident happened at a campus dining hall."
Andy Bitter provided further and more in-detail information in his Roanoke Times article:
"Nicolas...was arrested June22 after police said he was involved in stealing another student's silver Trek Bike outside the Dietrick Hall dining center about 5 p.m. May 29."
"The charge in this case is grand larceny under Virginia law, because the value of the stolen item exceeded $200. Foust said the bike was estimated to be worth $300."
Nicolas faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, but also could only face as much as a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine at the judge's or jury's discretion. Though he was projected to be outside of the two-deep, Nicolas came out of spring 3rd on the depth chart at stud end behind J.R. Collins and Tyrel Wilson, and as last season proved, you can never have enough depth along the defensive line. He may not have seen much time, but he potentially posed a threat as a situational rush end who could spell the two-deep defensive ends and give the Hokies a different look. If injuries began to threaten again on the defensive line, he would've been a likely candidate to jump into the fold. He also could have potentially become a player on special teams.
Per Andy Bitter's article, defensive line coach Charley Wiles said of Nicolas in March, "Physically, I think he could have played last year. Mentally and football instincts, the game was somewhat abstract to him." Wiles continued, "But Dadi's got arms that are long, wrists that are huge, elbows that are big, has a lot of growth potential. High-cut kid, but he's got a body that if he can continue to eat and get bigger, I think he can really end up being an explosive player for us. It's just the game, to play within the defense."
Given his athleticism, his eligibility and the fact that he only played one year of HS football, it is at least feasible that Nicolas also could've worked his way into some significant playing time or a spot on the two deep, particularly over Tyrel Wilson, who is a redshirt-junior and unlikely to ever push for significant playing time without injuries to those ahead of him. But now, it appears highly unlikely Nicolas will have the opportunity to do this.
As I said previously of the defensive line depth in my Virginia Tech Recruiting Guide for the Class of 2013 Primer:
"This year's defensive line should rank among the best in the program's history and the nation. Back are all four starters and all four backups from a year ago. Also among that group is only ONE senior and four juniors, meaning three of the top eight on the defensive line are sophomores and have all seen significant time. Add to that the new blood of potential impact players redshirt-freshmen Kris Harley and Dadi Nicolas..."
The starting defensive line is pretty well set, barring injuries or some unforeseen complication (don't worry, knocking on wood). James Gayle and J.R. Collins will man the outside, with the Hopkins brothers slotted as the starters on the interior. Behind them, there is no guarantee that the two-deep is set, but the smart money would be on some combination of Tyrel Wilson and Zach McCray at the end positions while Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall will battle for the inside spots. Of course, Marshall might also be an option as a backup defensive end, meaning redshirt-freshman Kris Harley, who nearly made the two-deep a year ago, may see some time on the second unit.
In the wake of Nicolas' suspension, other candidates for playing time at defensive end are redshirt-freshmen Matt Roth and Justin Taylor, freshman Dewayne Alford and Duan Perez-Means, a two-year player at defensive end who was moved to tight end in the off-season for depth. Taylor may also be a candidate at defensive tackle according to Hokiesports.
In the past, Beamer has given guys second chances, but very few who have allegedly committed a crime of this nature have had the opportunity to do so in the very same season. As we saw in Cody Journell's case, sometimes it takes a while for the legal process to play itself out as well (and Journell still hasn't been re-instated by AD Jim Weaver, something Nicolas would also require). So it would be best for the Hokies to plan on not having him for the remainder of the season, which I'm sure they are. But as for his future and how that affects his status with the Hokies, it will likely be a while before the air is clear.
Nicolas is set to be arraigned on July 13, but there is no telling what will come of that proceeding, or if his level of involvement will be revealed at that time. Although the Hokies have yet to reach the level of arrests that Florida and Miami were churning out at one point, any arrest serves to negatively affect the image of the football team. Coupled with the arrest of Cody Journell (which was also a felony, but was dropped to a misdemeanor with a plea bargain), Nicolas' arrest makes it two felony arrests for Virginia Tech players in just over half a year.
For more on Dadi Nicolas' situation as it develops and your home for Virginia Tech news, features and bantor, keep coming back to Gobbler Country.