Paul Nichols, who grew up in Dunwoody and played quarterback at Marist, has been named head football coach at Davidson College, making him the youngest head coach in Division I football at 31.
Nichols was graduated from Davidson in 2003. In 2000 he quarterbacked the Wildcats to their only undefeated season. Nichols graduated as the school record holder for career passing yards (5,822), completions (465) and touchdown passes (51). His record as a starter for the Wildcats was 22-6 and he named first-team All Pioneer League and first-team Pioneer League All-Academic team. He majored in political science and history.
After graduation Nichols began to work his way up the college coaching ladder, working two seasons as a graduate assistant at Ohio State.
“Paul Nichols is one of the brightest, innovative hard working coaches in America,” said former Buckeye Coach Jim Tressel.
He then spent three seasons at Marshall coaching cornerbacks and safeties before moving to Toledo as co-defensive coordinator.
When Toledo’s coach, Tim Beckman, moved up to replace Ron Zook at Illinois this year, he hired Nichols as director of player personnel, coordinating on-campus recruiting and relations with high school coaches.
Beckman said of Davidson, “You’re not just getting a quality coach, you’re getting a quality person and family.”
Nichols is the son of Jimmy and Heather Nichols of Dunwoody.
He inherits a tough situation at Davidson, just outside Charlotte.
The Wildcats finished 2-9 last season, firing coach Tripp Merritt and his “Air Raid” offense with two games left on the schedule. The Wildcats graduated 27 seniors but return rising senior Jonathan Carkhuff of Lovett who has passed Nichols in some passing categories and needs just six more touchdown passes to move past Nichols in that category.
The basketball teams at Marist are flying toward state tournament berths. The boys’ team is now ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA with 12-2 record overall, 8-1 in the region. That region loss was to top-ranked Columbia by a point. The boys won last week 67-43 vs Banneker and 52-44 at Washington. They are led by Quinton Stevens (committed to Georgia Tech and David Onourah (committed to Cornell).
The girls won 62-28 on Friday at Banneker and 65-25 at Washington on Saturday. The girls are ranked 10th in Class AAAA with a record of 8-4 overall and 6-2 in region.
This week the War Eagle teams play at South Atlanta and play at home Friday and Saturday against Carver and Redan.