Iowa fans were talking about and communicating with Nico Law well before he enrolled at the University of Iowa. The DC area native connected with people through social media and displayed his gift for gab on his own internet radio show while still in high schooler.
Then, Nico was gone. He arrived at Iowa last summer and was sucked up by the social media ban of head coach Kirk Ferentz, whose fond of uttering the phrase - "The less you say, the less you have to take back."
While Law was silenced on Twitter, the young DB was making noise on the field. Relegated to mostly special teams duty last season, the physical secondary man got his feet wet and showed the fearlessness necessary for success on those units and at strong safety.
"You saw when we first let him run down on kickoffs, he brought that energy," Iowa Secondary Coach Darrell Wilson said. "True story, he didn't realize how good he was until he got double teamed a couple of times and he got ear-holed, and he realized, Nico, other people watch film. He brought that energy to our kicking game, and I think he'll do the same in our defense."
Law showed enough in the fall as a true freshman to start this spring as the No. 1 strong safety on the depth chart. He's moved ahead of seniors Tom Donatell and Colin Sleeper, who began last season as the starter.
Senior Cornerback Micah Hyde said that Law watches a lot of film and desires to improve.
"For me, that's a treat," said Hyde, who also likes the film room. "He wants to watch tape beyond himself. He'll watch tape on Tyler Sash. He'll come up to me and talk about safeties in the NFL, like I have any idea what they're doing (laughs).
"He loves to broaden his horizons. He's a good kid and he's going to be great here in the future. He's going to definitely make plays."
Wilson said that Law is the most physical member of the secondary.
"Nico, everything he wants to do, he just wants to rip your head off," Wilson said. "We had to tell him, we have to play controlled violence."
It's like breaking in a colt that wants to run free for Wilson, Hyde and the experienced members of the secondary.
"Nico is not lacking confidence," Wilson said. "We just have to let Nico know that you don't know everything just yet.
"He's a football player. He wants to learn. He's gung-ho. We have to turn him down a little bit, which is OK. You would rather turn a guy down than have to turn him up."
Law is the type of player whose energy and physicality can become infectious on a defense. Like Sash and Bob Sanders, who led the way on great Iowa defenses from the strong safety position, Law isn't concerned with a big hit even if it means his bell gets rung.
Law came out of Bishop McNamara High in Forestville, MD with solid credentials. Scout.com ranked him as the 23rd best safety nationally in the 2011 class, a four-star recruit on a five-star scale. He chose the Hawkeyes ahead of scholarship offers from an impressive list of programs, including Cincinnati, Illinois, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers and West Virginia.
Shortly after officially visiting Iowa City, he fell in love with the Hawkeyes and verbally committed to the school. He then worked on fellow recruits in his class from the DC area. He encouraged Darian Cooper and Jordan Lomax to follow him to the Midwest. They all showed up on the two-deep this month.
A lot of Iowa fans out there are interested to see how Law does on the field. It goes back to that connection made on Twitter and Facebook between he and the Hawkeye faithful.
It's refreshing. The kid isn't allowing all the pats on his back go to his head. He's showing that he's not only a man of his word but one of action.
While confident, he's not conceited.
"He's funny," Hyde said. "I don't have any classes with him, but I heard he's a smart kid. He's a young guy that wants to make plays. He needs to be more patient and trust his first instinct. He'll soon learn that."