Written by Ryan Wright
On paper and on his highlight reel, Nic Canada has everything working for him that a senior offensive lineman would want. The Freedom High School standout is 6’5”, 285 pounds, carries a 3.02 GPA, is quick, especially for his size, and strong. Yet with all of the positives, and playing against tough Florida high school competition, Canada has not landed as many offers as one would think, he has just one.
Division-II or FCS programs are well aware of Canada. Teams like Southern University, Florida Tech, Weber, Puget Sound, and Jacksonville University are all showing interest but Warner University is the only program yet to offer. The only Division-I team showing interest is area program South Florida.
The superlatives are all there, as mentioned Canada is 6’5”, 285 pounds. He reports a bench press max of 315 pounds, squat max of 500, and a 40-yard dash best of 5.2. The two-year starter for Freedom High School plays against some of the better traditional competition in the state, teams like Sickles and Plant, and more than holds his own against top competition already committed to Power Five programs like Florida, Florida State, and Miami.
The Patriots were 6-4 a year ago but are trying to hang tough through a 3-6 campaign in 2016 after a hard loss to Sickles on Friday.
In a Recruiting News Guru exclusive interview, I sat down with Nic to talk about his senior season, the play on the field for the Patriots, and received a recruiting news update.
*interview conducted before Sickles game (Oct. 30).
Nic, the Patriots are playing tough with a 3-5 record before taking the field against Sickles. The team reeled off three consecutive wins before dropping one to Plant (42-12). How is the team looking heading into the final two games of the regular season?
“I think we’re doing well, we had a tough week against Plant and play Sickles this week. We’re trying to get back to our basics and make sure everything is correct. I think we’ll be solid for the last two games of the season.”
All states do their playoff berths differently. If Freedom wins out in the final two games can you guys make the playoffs?
“If we win then we can force a two-way tie with our district rival (Wharton) and Sickles. What would happen then, they do a shootout with the second and third place teams playing a half. The winner then plays the other team in the last half. I think we have a good shot at making the playoffs.”
What are the strength of this year’s football team?
“To be honest, we are even everywhere. One of our strengths is our running game. We punish teams with our running and we have a good quarterback who can run. We have a lot of fast running backs too. I think another strength is the right side of the O-line. With Tyler (Gray) and I, they can run behind us and get some big runs in when needed.”
What are your strengths on the field as an offensive lineman?
“My strengths are my good use of technique and my overall physical strength. My blocking in the running game, I’ve been told by coaches, that I’m good at getting to the second level and dominating the guys that are in front of me. I don’t pull much, our guards pull. With my pass blocking, I do well at it. We just played Plant and I went up against defensive tackle Bo Peek, he’s going to Stanford. I did really well against him. I’ve gone up against a defensive end committed to Florida and did well there too giving my quarterback a pocket to throw in.”
Which game has been your best this season and why?
“That’s a hard one. I’d say my best game was probably against East Bay and then against Plant. That was our Senior Night. Against East Bay, I had a lot of pancakes, I had 10 or 15. I was consistent with my blocking throughout. There were some knock downs in that game that I did not really count. Against Plant, I was just able to dominate that game and did not allow any sacks. I was blocking two guys at the same time at different points when they were doing stunts.”
Which schools are recruiting you right now?
“I have an offer from Warner University. I have some small schools like Pugent Sound in Washington and a few schools like that showing interest.”
Have you visited any schools so far this season?
“I’ve gone to Southeastern University, one to Weber, one to Warner, Florida Tech, USF and I’m scheduled to go to Jacksonville University coming up.”
How did your visit to South Florida go?
“It was good. There were a lot of prospects there. I did not have a lot of one-on-one time with coaching staff. I live about 10 minutes away so I am very familiar with the team, campus, and school. I have friends and family there.”
How was your visit to Weber?
“That was a good one. I liked the coaches there. It is a small school but I liked it. The coaches have good ideas in the game, I like their game plans, and they dominated the game when I was there. Overall that was a really good visit. The coaches showed a lot of interest in me.”
What about your visit to Warner?
“That was a really good one, they offered me a scholarship. All the coaches there seemed to like me. They knew a lot about me. It was a very successful visit.”
Did you go to any college camps over the summer?
“I went to SIU, Miami, USF, and West Florida. I did a bunch of combines and other camps for other organizations.”
How did the Miami camp go for you?
“It went well. Scott Patchan is a childhood friend of mine (Miami freshman defensive lineman). Everyone was cool with me there because of Scott. The coaches there were great. Offensive line coach, Coach (Art) Kehoe was great. Coach Kehoe taught me a lot. The defensive line coaches were helpful too. They helped me pick up on things that have helped me this year.”
Recruiting is sure to heat up with a lot of schools reaching out to fill needed pieces in their classes. It looks like your offer sheet will grow soon. When you start weighing the pros and cons of the different schools what are the main factors you will consider in choosing a college?
“First is the academics. I’d like smaller classroom sizes, but I’m not going to shy away from bigger classrooms or bigger schools. I want the college feel and sense of community at that school. I want a place that I can fit into.”
What do you want to major in while in college?
“I’m stuck between two things, pre law and criminology and business.”
Do you participate in any other sports for Freedom?
“I wrestled my freshman and sophomore years. I came one match short of state. I twisted my ankle pretty bad in an earlier match. In my last match a kid was cranking on it. I had football in the back of mind throughout hoping he didn’t mess it up where I could not play football anymore. I wrestled to stay in shape looking for techniques to use in football. I thought it would help me stay low and use my hands better when blocking.”
What is your favorite part of playing football?
“The competition is my favorite part. Just getting to compete. I’ve grown up with a lot of my teammates, getting to play with them every day is great. I love the general buzz of football.”
Nic, thanks for your time today. Good luck the rest of the season.
Photo credit: Canada family; Nic Canada at USF.
Photo credit: Canada family; Nic at Southeastern University.