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90 Days to Play Football: Isaiah Nichols

90 Days to Play Football: Isaiah Nichols


In order for Coach Walters’ defense to work, he had to bring in a different kind of defensive end than what Purdue used under Coach Brohm. The defensive ends in the new 5 man front routinely get individual matchups against guards. They need to be strong enough to hold the point of attack in the run game, and athletic enough to get into the backfield and play.


iNichols said

Senior (RS)

Springdale, Ark (Springdale HS

63, 315

Defensive end

Projection 2023: starter/key depth

Nichols already has a lot of high-level football under his belt and wants to break into Coach Walters’ new look of defense. In Illinois, the defensive goals wreaked havoc on the Big10 last season, and Nichols wants some of that action.

As a freshman for Arkansas in 2019, he appeared in 12 games. He only posted 17 tackles, but was on the field for 296 defensive snaps. That’s a good piece for a former 3* redshirt freshman in the SEC.

In his sophomore year (aka the Covid year), he further established himself as a key member of the Arkansas defense line. He appeared in 9 games, including 7 starts, allowing him to log 475 defensive snaps, 24 tackles, 0.5 tackles-for-loss and 0.5 sacks. Again not earth shattering, but consistent.

In 2021, he returned to the bench and appeared in 13 games, but only started 3. He finished the season with 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Finally, in 2022, Nichols became the full-time starter at defensive tackle, with 16 tackles and a tackle for loss. That may not seem like much production, but that’s more because of the system he was in than a lack of talent. His job at Arkansas was to play indoors, eat blocks and keep linebackers clean. At Purdue, he is asked to line up against guards, go into the backfield and make things happen. It should be a nice change for the big man.

I’m not sure if he’ll start, or if he’ll be a key rotation, but either way, expect to see the big number 90 on the pitch a lot in 2023.




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