The crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium went silent Saturday as NC State’s Dakwa Nichols was taken to the locker room on a cart after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury during the Wolfpack’s win against Syracuse.
As it turns out, the injury was even worse than it looked.
The fifth-year senior suffered tears to the patella tendon in both knees, coach Dave Doeren said Monday, effectively ending his college football career.
“It’s really a disappointing thing for a great young man,” Doeren said at his regular weekly press conference. “But he is doing well.”
Nichols gained two yards on his first carry of the game late in the first quarter when Syracuse linebacker Parris Bennett pulled him down by the facemask. His knees buckled as he fell to the turf.
Trainers worked for several minutes to stabilize Nichols’ legs before putting him onto the cart. His teammates gathered around him to wish him well before he left to a loud ovation.
“I’ve never seen that in my life,” Doeren said when announcing the extent of his player’s injuries.
Nichols underwent surgery to repair the damage on Monday. Doeren said that the youngster’s parents, along with running backs coach Des Kitchings, were with him at the hospital.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound native of Rockingham gained 37 yards and a touchdown on eight carries this season. He started two games as a sophomore, gaining 78 yards in a win against Syracuse for his career-best effort. He also recorded 132 yards in kick returns against Georgia Tech as a redshirt freshman in 2014.
Nichols is on track to graduate in December with a degree in program management.
“He’s in good spirits,” Doeren said. “He’ll focus on getting healthy. He’s got a few things to turn in and he’s a college graduate.”