Nicoe Pless, a 17-year-old student at Ezekiel Ezra Smith High School in Fayetteville, finished fifth overall out of 170 prospects in the shuttle event during the Blue-Grey National Super Football Combine at the New England Patriots Training Complex in Foxboro, Mass., June 8 and 9.
Nicoe, son of Sgt. Michael Pless of the 323rd Basic Combat Training Battalion in Cary, N.C., and other potentials from several regions across the country were tested in the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, broad jump, vertical jump, and 185 maximum bench repetitions.
He finished the shuttle event in first place among the E.E. Smith prospects and fifth overall with a time of 4.1 seconds.
The wide receiver said he was grateful for the opportunity at Foxboro and plans to use this experience to his advantage.
“I thank God for giving me the talent and opportunity,” Nicoe said with a smile. “It is an honor to be selected and to participate in such an event.
“My coach wants me to use these combines to learn new things and continue to improve,” Nicoe said. “After this combine, I’m going to continue to work on my speed, which is now around a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, and my route running ability.”
The Golden Bulls receiver, who has been playing sports since he was 5 years old, said football was not always his main sport.
“When I first got into sports, I was really into soccer,” Nicoe said. “My dad let me play any sport but leaned more toward football, and later I did too.”
Michael Pless said his son’s talent didn’t go unnoticed.
“We noticed him really excelling in football when he got to Albritton Middle School and it seemed he couldn’t be stopped,” Pless said. “And after three championships with the Fayetteville Force Arena football team, he still is usually the last one to leave practice. What sets him apart from his peers is his competitive edge, motivation and he is very focused on and off the field. We couldn’t ask for a better kid,” Pless said.
Nicoe received recognition from many colleges including Ohio State University and Oklahoma University for his leadership ability on and off the field.
“I really like Ohio State,” said Nicoe. “I can see myself fitting in perfect with their type of program.”
The young athlete said that he averaged 12.41 yards a catch last year and the team ended their season with 11 wins and two losses.
“My favorite game last year was against our rival, Jack Britt,” Nicoe said. “I led the team in receptions and yards. In that game, the quarterback threw me the ball on a 50- replace pass; I shook a few people and showcased my speed on my way to the end zone. Hopefully, we can do a lot more of that this year and win the state championship.”
Nicoe shared his strategy for being a good receiver — it takes a great work ethic to get to the combine.
“You don’t have to be real big, super fast and super tall to be a good receiver,” Nicoe said. “But you have to have good hands, be coachable and work as hard as you possibly can.”
If selected, Nicoe has the opportunity to play in the third, annual Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic, at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Jan. 11, 2014, in front of a national audience on Fox Sports.