Welcome to the third installment of This is How I Train.

Every Tuesday and Thursday during the preseason, we will feature a member of the Blue Hen football team and learn a little more about what motivates them to excel.

Senior • Defensive Tackle • Newark, Del. (Hodgson Vo-Tech HS) • Sociology Major

Fourth-year member of the squad as a senior defensive tackle • preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association selection by league head coaches and media relations directors • two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and strong All-American candidate • has pro potential • will start for second straight year and solidify the middle of the line at nose tackle in Delaware's new 3-4 alignment •  among 30 Delawareans on the roster • has played in 33 career games with 10 starts and recorded 48 tackles (26 solo) • has 11 tackles for loss (52 yards), four sacks (38 yards), three forced fumbles, one interception, and six pass breakups • has a big, athletic body and unlimited potential • despite fierceness on the field is one of the team's likeable and polite players • shared team's Weight Room Champion honors with linebacker Troy Reeder for spring drills for outstanding work and improvement in the weight room.

Can you lift a vending machine and a piano? Bilal Nichols can!: "Winning that (weight champion award) really meant a lot to me. I pride myself on being a hard worker on and off the field. Work in the weight room is vital to my success and to everyone on this team. (Strength & Conditioning) Coach (Chris) Stewart does a great job with us and has really helped me build my lower body. I owe a lot of the credit for my improvement to him for supporting me. The squat and the bench are my two favorite areas, that's what I am best at."

Note: Nichols' career bests are 600 lbs. in the squat lift and 400 lbs. in the bench press. The average vending machine weighs about 600 lbs. The average piano weighs about 400 lbs. (Don't try this at home)

Proud First State native: "It means a lot to me to be from Delaware and to play at Delaware. I don't take it for granted. To walk up and down our hallways and see the pictures of the great players who played here before me means a lot. I love living in Delaware. My family can watch me play and I part of great tradition."

My idea of a great day off: "Just laying in my bed, having my grandparents (his guardians) cook me a nice home-cooked meal, and then playing a game with my teammates sounds good to me. Just getting off my feet and relaxing mentally and physically from the game for a day makes a big difference."

So what about this new 3-4 defense?: "I like it a lot, but it has taken some getting used to. You have to be very disciplined and you have to be very good in your technique to execute it at a high level. I think it gives our defense a good sense of variety. We have a lot of different things we can throw in there and a lot of different people to put in there. It fits our personnel very well. I can't wait to get started."

Who should we be watching for? There are many, but I have three. Cam Kitchen, Sal Mauro, and John Nassib. I think all three guys will really step up and do a lot for this defensive line. Some people may not know too much about them, but I feel like all three are going to have a great year."

Where do you hope to be next year at this time? Hopefully I see myself getting an opportunity to play in the big leagues. It's definitely been a dream of mine since I was a child. Playing in the NFL would be a dream come true. I hope that is where I will be. I will put everything in God's hands and continue to work hard. Whatever happens happens."

What class are you most looking forward to this fall? On Monday nights from 6-9 p.m. I am taking a class as part of the Inside Out Program. Our class will go to a prison (Plummer Community Correction Center in Wilmington) and half the class will be UD students and half will be those confined there. UD has been doing this for a couple years now. I am really looking forward to it. I want to get in their (those confined) heads and I am quite sure they want to get into mine. I want to know what they think and feel and how this has changed their lives."

Note: A sociology major, Nichols will finish his degree in January and take part in graduation ceremonies in May, 2018.

Next Up: Thomas Jefferson (Aug. 10)

Previous Installments:
Charles Bell - LB (Aug. 1)
Brody Kern - C (Aug. 3)