UD football gets boost from several key players who were injured last season

The first day of Drew Nickles’ fifth University of Delaware football season last Friday was a pleasant throwback.

The linebacker felt as good as he had since he was a sophomore starter in 2019. Nickles has had two injury-plagued seasons since.

But as Delaware prepares for a 2022 season in which its ambitions are high, Nickles is among several key returnees from injuries as he bolsters a defense poised to be a UD strength.  

“I feel great,” Nickles said on the first day of camp. “ … I just gotta kick the rust off a little bit.”

After Tuesday’s practice, Delaware defensive coordinator Manny Rojas said Nickles has done that and quickly rounded back into the form that makes him so valuable to Delaware.

“He’s a long linebacker,” Rojas said of the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Nickles. “He’s athletic. He can rush the passer; he can drop in coverage. So being able to have him and the fluidity that he gives us to put him back in the game in certain spots, certain positions is phenomenal.”

Nickles dealt with right shoulder trouble during the 2019 season and had surgery after that year. His recovery went fine but in 2020, when spring drills and the subsequent season were dashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nickles pulled his hamstring during fall practice.

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