Doc Five: Top five defensive players poised for a comeback in 2014 - No. 4 - Demetrious Nicholson

Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd (23) makes a catch in front of Virginia cornerback Demetrious Nicholson (1) in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 14-3. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

Last week, in honor of the San Antonio Spurs rebounding from a crushing defeat in 2013 to win the 2014 NBA Finals in triumphant fashion, we decided to focus on the college football players who suffered setbacks last season who are prime candidates to come back strong.

We started with the offensive side of the ball for our countdown last week and included guys like Florida’s Jeff Driskel, Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton and Louisville’s Michael Dyer.

Now we will turn it over to the defensive side of the ball.


No. 4: Demetrious Nicholson, CB, Virginia

Nicholson has been entrenched as a starter at cornerback in Virginia's lineup since he was a freshman, the first first-year player to start at corner for the Caveliers since 1986. How entrenched? Well, through five games of 2013, he had played in 1,981 of a possible 2,055 defensive snaps.

However, he suffered a turf toe injury in that fifth game against Ball State and was forced to miss the rest of the season.

His absence wasn't a crippling one; when you're 0-8 in the conference and 2-10 overall, you have more holes to fill than just at a cornerback spot, but Virginia could have used him against Clemson in November. Namely, to cover Sammy Watkins. In the Tigers' 59-10 win, Watkins had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

In the Ball State game, Virginia gave up 346 yards passing. In the seven games after it in Nicholson's absence, the Cavaliers gave up more yards passing in six of them than they did in the first four games.

If Virginia is to be a bounceback team and make it to a bowl game in 2014 – and potentially save Mike London's job – being able to force more turnovers is paramount. With Nicholson healthy and the presence of two starting senior safeties in Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps, the secondary shouldn't be a weak link.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!