Former Nantucket star football player Nick Correia in midst of stellar college football career
David Creed •
When University of Rhode Island offensive line coach Stefon Wheeler joined the school’s Div. I football program in 2019, he couldn’t help but notice the abilities of one of the program’s offensive lineman.
“When I got here in the spring of 2019 I’m like who is this kid who is so big but can run like this,” Wheeler said. “I mean yeah he wasn’t a starter at that time but you know a guy that big man, you have to find a way to get him on the field.”
That kid was 6’6, 330 pound 2018 Nantucket graduate Nick Correia. Correia has already started 26 games for URI through his redshirt sophomore season and has impressed his position coach along the way.
“Honestly with a guy that size, we are talking about the next level,” Wheeler said. “He definitely has the size and the athletic ability, he just needs to fine tune his tools as I say to keep propelling him and getting him ready for that next level. He is a very large human being so anybody that big who can move that well is going to get looks from NFL teams. There is no doubt about it.”
Correia only appeared in three games during his true freshman season as a backup, but in 2019 he played in all 12 games as a redshirt freshman as URI’s starting right guard. After a shortened three-game season last year where he started all three of his team’s games, he started all 11 games this season.
Correia said that when he initially joined URI’s football program, he realized quickly that adjusting to the game speed and uptick in talent would be something he needed to address quickly.
“I had to go through a lot of work to transform my body into what it is right now and it took a lot of work to adjust to the speed level of Div. I football and the competition coming from Nantucket and all that,” Correia said. “So that was a big jump for me but once I got going and had all of this great guidance from people around me, understanding what I wanted to do and what I wanted to become, it has been a great experience.”
Correia was named to the CAA Football All-Conference Second Team for the second consecutive season last month and has helped anchor one of the top offensive lines in the Colonial Athletic Association conference since taking over as URI’s starting right guard.
During his redshirt freshman season, Correia and the Rams offensive line helped the program finish as one of two teams to field an offense that compiled 3,500 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in 2019. They were stellar with their pass protection, allowing just over two sacks per game despite an average of over 42 passing attempts per game.
Correia has helped the Rams orchestrate a balanced offensive attack over the past three seasons. Correia still has two more years of eligibility but has already accumulated plenty of knowledge and experience which has propelled him into a leadership role for this Rams program. Wheeler said Correia’s quiet leadership approach is contagious and has helped the program develop a culture predicated on strong work ethics and self-accountability.
“Nick is the quiet guy of that unit but nobody messes with him. He is like the Undertaker,” Wheeler said. “He doesn’t say much but people just know their place. They know to stay in their lane and focus on their job. Nobody messes with Nick. He does a great job of showing these guys how to work. That is the one thing about this crew up front that I love. They bring their lunch pails to work and just do a good job every day. He plays a big part in that.”
Wheeler said Correia played a key role in helping with the development of freshman right tackle AJ Cornelius. Correia said the best way to help younger players adapt to the flow of the game is by taking care of his own responsibilities first.
“I just try to take care of my job first and do what I got to do to help my team be successful and if I can help other people along the way, then I am definitely going to do that by giving some pointers,” Correia said. “So when it comes to playing with AJ, the thing to understand is that me playing more confident and being more confident made him play and feel more confident. It allowed us to play together and just have that connection.”
Being a Div. I athlete is an everyday job and requires Correia to focus on much more than his workouts in the weight room. When Correia isn’t lifting, he uses his time to study film and schemes to better understand how his coaches want their offense to operate. As a right guard, Correia has to regularly work on his athleticism and quickness while actively working on his strength.
“I do a lot of position specific stuff like o-line movements, steps and ladder drills, hurdles,” Correia said. “Stretching and flexibility is important too, especially as a guard. I think learning the importance of all those small things and improving my overall understanding of the game, schemes, and just what we are trying to do over here has been what I learned most since coming to URI.”
Correia said as he begins preparations for next season, he wants to focus on being more explosive at the point of attack off the ball and on solo blocks. He believes he can also become a more consistent player who his team can bank on playing four strong quarters of football every game.
“Having guys like Nick coming back next year can help us take this program to the next level,” Wheeler said. “He works so hard and his development overall has been tremendous. That goes along well with his god given size. It is incredible for a man that big to move that well. Kudos to him because he has worked his tail off and drove himself into shape, worked on his body, and it is really paying dividends.”
Correia said his team goals for next season are to win the conference and make the playoffs after coming up one game short this season with a 7-4 record. He said individually, along with improving his consistency, he wants to earn First Team All-Conference honors after earning second team honors in back to back seasons.
Correia said he is thankful for his time playing for Nantucket and being a Whaler. He was an offensive tackle and defensive tackle as one of Nantucket’s two-way starters. He was also a team captain. He has advice for any kids with aspirations of continuing their athletic careers beyond high school.
“If there is something you really want to do, you need to just go out there and do it,” Correia said. “Nobody is going to come to you or ask if you want it. They won’t give it to you. You have to go out of your way to show how much you want it and put in the extra work. Nobody is really looking at us unless you make them look at you.”