Jack Nicklaus, considered the greatest golfer in history, has 21 grandchildren. One of them, as it turns out, is a major college prospect in football. And Georgia may have an inside track in his recruitment.
Nick O’Leary is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior tight end at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. His parents are both UGA alums and athletes. O’Leary’s mother, the former Nan Nicklaus, played volleyball at Georgia in the early 1980s, lettering in 1983. His father, Bill O’Leary, lettered in football at Georgia in 1984-85.
Nick was the subject of a recent story written by Rivals.com (subscription required) high school writer Adam Gorney.
Bill O’Leary’s college career never really lifted off at Georgia, according to longtime UGA sports communications director Claude Felton. He remembers him as a nice young man, red-headed, somewhat injury-prone and, of course, that “he dated Jack Nickaus’ daughter.”
Georgia records show that the elder O’Leary was a star running back at Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota, Fla., where he was a two-time all-state player rushed for 2,568 yards and 38 TDs. He walked on with the Bulldogs in the early 1980s and began his career as a linebacker. After encoutering knee and ankle injuries he moved to defensive end, then finished his career as the Bulldogs’ No. 2 tight end behind Troy Sadowski. There is no record of him having caught a pass, however.
Nick O’Leary had 27 catches for 522 yards and six TDs as a sophomore for Dwyer last season. His team is 1-1 so far this year.
“Nick is such a natural (athlete),” his grandfather told Rivals.com. “From the time that kid was 5-6 years old, if they put him in the outfield in baseball, at the crack of the bat he would be on it. You don’t teach somebody that. In football, if he can touch it, he catches it. If the ball is in the air, he’s going to be the first one there.”
So far O’Leary has received only “correspondences” from Georgia. But if the Bulldogs decide to pursue him they will encounter considerable competition. His Rivals.com recruiting profile shows him with offers from Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Miami, Boston College and West Virginia and he’s drawing interest from dozens of others.
“From a selfish standpoint, Florida would be great because it’s close,” the granddad Nicklaus told Rivals. “He wouldn’t have to live up to his father or me. Ohio State would be great because I’d love to see him go there. Georgia would be great because of his father. It really doesn’t make a difference to me.”