Change can be a good thing. So it was a year ago, when Keller linebacker Jacob Nichter was asked to make a move.
The Indians football coaching staff asked Nichter during spring drills a year ago to make a move to defensive end. The move could get the tenacious defender on the field more readily.
“He just wanted to play and we wanted to get him on the field to play a lot more,” said head coach Carl Stralow. “He’s a disruptive force. It’s a better fit and he’s flourished in that role. He has a knack for making plays, especially against the run.”
Nichter was welcomed to the varsity and flourished in his first season at the end, and now he’s looking to improve upon his performance while the Indians look to rebound from a postseason hiatus.
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“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Nichter said of the day he was approached about making the move. “They asked if I’d like a better chance to be on varsity and I said, ‘Yes, sir.’”
The new position made a lot of sense, as Nichter was growing toward his 6-3, 235 frame with ample speed and quickness. He said he’s improved his 40 time to 4.85 from a 5.4.
Nichter feels he’s able to make plays with his size and speed, but still “skinny” enough to squeeze inside a pulling guard or tackle and bounce his way to the outside.
That quickness to the ball has created an area of focus for improvement, though, for this season.
They asked if I’d like a better chance to be on varsity and I said, ‘Yes, sir.’
Jacob Nichter on his move to defensive end
“I’m working on reading the quarterback drop depth and learning to rush his back shoulder,” Nichter said. Too often, he was getting to the QB’s near shoulder too quickly and then overrunning the ball.
But he doesn’t mind paying attention to the details of the position to improve technique and his impact on the defensive front.
“He doesn’t mind the grind of the defensive line,” Stralow said.
With no two-a-days this year due to new UIL guidelines, Nichter knows he and his Keller teammates will have to be ready to go when practices start on Aug. 14.
But he hasn’t been at a loss for workout opportunities this summer.
“I’ve been working on improving my technique, speed off the ball and more hand-to-hand combat with the offensive line,” he said.
Nichter has caught the eye of several colleges and he’s been busy at about a dozen football camps.
“It feels good to have interest in me already,” Nichter said. He has had several D II and lately, some D I schools inquiring about his talent.
Before that decision comes later in the year, Nichter said the focus in on getting Keller back to the playoffs this year.
“I believe our spring looked good and we fixed a lot of problems. We’ve been working very hard and we know a couple of our games will be tough. We won’t know anything for sure until our scrimmage against (Mansfield) Summit,” he said.