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April 25, 2009

Nicks headed to Big Apple

North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks got the biggest phone call of his life Saturday evening, as the New York Giants phoned to let him know he was the No. 29 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.

"I'm excited about the opportunity that is ahead of me in New York," said Nicks in a Saturday evening press release from UNC. "I was just waiting around today to hear my name called and was relieved when it happened. I got a call from Coach (Tom) Coughlin right before they made the pick. It's something I've prepared my whole life for and I look forward to the challenge."

The Giants were in serious need of a quality receiver after parting ways with Plaxico Burress earlier in the offseason, and have reportedly been highly interested in Nicks for months leading up to Saturday's selection.

Multiple scouts representing the Giants attended North Carolina's Junior Day last month, and while Nicks was reportedly a little overweight, he didn't drop a single pass when New York tested him---a positive indicator of his ability to make plays in Giants Stadium, which can get quite cold and windy late in the season.

Nicks needed only three seasons to become the most decorated receiver in the history of North Carolina football---and the first Tar Heel to declare for the NFL Draft after his junior year since defensive end Julius Peppers in 2002.

Nicks heads to the pros as North Carolina's all-time leader in career receptions (181), career receiving yards (2,580) and career touchdowns (21).

This past fall, Nicks set a school record with 1,222 receiving yards, while his 68 receptions tied for third in school history. His 94 receiving yards per game led the ACC, and ranked 12th in the country.

Nicks saved his best performance as a collegian for his final game at UNC, a sensational eight catch, 217-yard, three touchdown game against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Bowl. His performance against the Mountaineers greatly aided in his first round selection this spring.

Nicks is the second UNC player in as many years to be a first round selection---joining former Tar Heel teammate Kentwan Balmer, the first round selection of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008.

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