BROOKLYN - New York City has always been a recruiting area where you can find talented high school football players, especially within the PSAL (Public School Athletic League). Hop on a subway ride deep into Brooklyn (one of the 5 boroughs in NYC) and you will find gifted players that have the requisite traits to play at the highest level of college football. Schools like Erasmus Hall, Midwood, Abraham Lincoln and Sheepshead Bay have sent dozens of players to top level college programs. James Madison High School, the alma mater of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who recently lost her battle with cancer, has a talented player that is sure to gain increased attention from college programs this year. Willensky Nicolas (Class of 2022 - 6’1 – 180lbs), who was a starter as an outside linebacker on the junior varsity his freshman year, was moved up to varsity for the PSAL playoffs where he immediately contributed on Special teams (Kickoff and Punt teams). With a need in the defensive secondary, Nicolas transitioned from linebacker to cornerback as a sophomore, starting 11 games.
James Madison defensive backs coach, Nick Nugent, gave high praise on some of the traits Nicolas excels at.
“He has ball skills that have translated from his experience as a receiver playing youth football. When the ball goes up, he goes and gets it,” said Nugent. “He is a physical player that was great at containment for us last season”.
The moment you put on the film you immediately notice Nicolas’ frame. He has length with long arms which is a desirable trait when matching up against taller receivers and tight ends. At 6’1, Nicolas will certainly add weight to his frame and may even grow a few inches, something that can often happen over the course of a few years in high school.
As Nicolas develops over the next two years, college personnel departments and coaches will certainly have some options as to where he can contribute.
“I definitely think he will remain on the defensive side of the ball as a hybrid player in college,” said Nugent. “He will be a player that can come down into the box and provide run support.”
As the game of football at all levels has continued to become more of a space game, players that have mobility in space and that have the size to come into the box without giving the offense a mismatch advantage are at a premium at the college and pro level.
Nicolas expressed a team first mindset when it comes to where a school may want to play him. “I don’t care where they play me. I’ll play anywhere they need me,” said Nicolas.
Part of the recruiting process involves for a high school player is learning about the schools they may attend. Academic programs that can aid players in fulfilling career aspirations after their playing days are over, can be a powerful recruiting tool beyond football facilities that have become a major recruiting tool in recent years.
Nicolas spoke about his desire to potentially pursue a career in medicine. “I like kids and may want to become a pediatrician,” said Nicolas. “Science is my favorite subject area, specifically Earth Science”.
With the high school football season in New York being moved to March 2021, Nicolas will be a player to keep an eye on. He is currently among some talented players on Prospect New York State’s watch list.