Wholehogsports – isaiah nichols found his football calling later than most prawns biryani recipe kerala

That high-energy personality got him into a bit of trouble, too, whether it was the sibling rivalry with his older brother or disappearing into the pine woods that surrounded his bradley county home in warren in southeast arkansas. He especially enjoyed exploring during deer season.

Warren is a football factory, a city of roughly 6,000 that once produced arkansas football greats greg childs, jarius wright and chris gragg in the same high school class. The lumberjacks have won three high school state championships since 2001, most recently in 2014.

“to be honest, it came down to the church we were going to. It had a lot of rules that we had to follow,” said susan nichols, isaiah’s mother, now a clerical assistant at a poultry supply company in springdale. “taking part in sports was kind of frowned upon.Clark said

The nichols family didn’t go to the movies or watch TV.

For a while, they didn’t have one. Because of their church involvement, there wasn’t a lot of time for family activity either. Financially, times were tough. Isaiah didn’t have much of an outlet.

He finally got a chance to play sports following a move to little rock. Nichols attended junior high at LISA academy, a charter school where sports were secondary to a premium placed on education. His options were limited given the school’s size. Basketball or soccer?

“his school didn’t have a football team and his older brother played basketball,” susan said. “middle kids tend to want to differentiate themselves from other siblings, so he started playing soccer. He tried out and made the team.”

Then came another move, and nichols arrived in springdale in the spring of his freshman year.High school susan and vance, at last, felt they were where they were supposed to be, at a different stage in their lives. Isaiah – 6-foot-2, 225 pounds – was given the green light to give football a try.

Springdale high football coach zak clark, hired in january 2015 following the resignation of shane patrick, still remembers one of his first sit-downs with the freshman. He had yet to play a down, but clark saw the potential.

He’d be less than surprised if every college in the country cycled through his two-story fieldhouse to get a glimpse of nichols before his high school career concluded.

Nichols suited up for the first time in the fall of 2015 in junior varsity action. He dominated, clark said, but it didn’t come without its hiccups and a setback. He suffered a stress fracture in his forearm that caused him to miss half of his first season, which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t significant.High school

“I think he had a couple of late hits, and they were egregious. There was a roughing the passer penalty where he didn’t even know the rules,” clark said laughing. “I knew he had a steep learning curve.”

But the injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise in a way, allowing him to hone in on the intricacies of the game and close the mental gap between he and his opponents. Time in the film room paid near-immediate dividends as he returned to the field for the final month of the varsity season and cracked the rotation for a struggling springdale defense.

Zach arns, voice of the springdale bulldogs, had been praising nichols’ raw ability in the days leading up to his varsity debut against perennial power bentonville. Springdale was 1-5 entering week 7 and its defense had surrendered 48 or more points four times.First time the sophomore was going to make a swift impact, but he couldn’t have predicted he’d pick up a lasting – and fitting – nickname in the process.

The nickname personifies nichols’ play and is indicative of his character. He began popping up on the radars of high-major college programs during a junior season in 2016 in which he totaled 64 tackles, 13 for loss, and 2.5 sacks as springdale doubled its 2015 win total and made a second consecutive playoff appearance.

At springdale, isaiah nichols played for zak clark, a former starting quarterback at arkansas. (northwest arkansas democrat-gazette photo/J.T. Wampler)

The bulldogs were riding high after a dominant 42-21 win against rogers heritage in their 7A-west conference opener in week 4. Then tragedy struck.

One of nichols’ closest friends, star receiver kyler williams, was killed in a single-vehicle accident about five miles south of U.S. 412 near marble.High school he was driving a 2002 suzuki north on arkansas 21 when the vehicle left the roadway and overturned several times before he was ejected, according to a fatal crash summary from arkansas state police. Williams was pronounced dead at the scene.

Twenty-four hours earlier, williams was again etching his name into the springdale high record books with a 10-catch, 266-yard, 3-touchdown performance against heritage. The 266 yards remain the second highest single-game total in the history of springdale, one of arkansas’ most storied programs. Williams also caught 13 passes for 264 yards – third all-time – and 2 touchdowns in a game as a junior.

The day following williams’ death, a memorial was held at jarrell williams bulldog stadium in his honor. Hundreds of friends, family, area coaches and players gathered to pay their respects.Clark said nichols, as well as jayden minchew, another of williams’ dearest friends who recently transferred to arkansas from dartmouth, opted to speak to media outlets beforehand, showcasing maturity beyond their years.

"He was my brother. I didn’t consider him a friend; I considered him my brother. It wasn’t just a friendship; it was a brotherhood," nichols said. "There aren’t many people in my life that affected me the way he did. I love him. I miss him."

Williams was among the first students at springdale to befriend nichols after moving from little rock. Stories have been told of williams watching fishing videos on youtube during classes. Soon enough, nichols was doing the same, and their mutual affinity for the outdoors – and football – blossomed a strong bond.

"He was close with kyler.Associated press loved him. Isaiah has talked a lot about playing for kyler or trying to honor him in his play on the field and how he lives his life," clark said. "That was the first time many of our guys were faced with the acknowledgement of mortality. It really made things more important for isaiah and he realizes now that we all not only have a short window on earth but a short window when it comes to football and other goals.

Four weeks after losing his best friend, nichols turned in his best defensive effort to date in a win against van buren, helping springdale snap a three-game losing streak. He finished with seven tackles, 3.5 for loss, and a pair of highlight-reel caliber hits.

“there was a play in the second half where he caught the running back flat-footed and decleated him. I actually said during the broadcast that the van buren police should have stopped the game and filed a report,” arns said facetiously.Associated press

His talent, as well as a work ethic developed through working at his church’s second-hand store in warren and hauling and chopping wood for the family’s wood stove growing up, garnered attention and offers from power 5 programs across the country. Playing college football – and having his education paid for – was becoming a reality.

Mississippi state, missouri, kansas state, north carolina state and others wanted him. But nichols had his sights set on arkansas, and he committed june 23, 2017, prior to the beginning of his senior year. Clark was proudest of nichols’ humility throughout a recruiting process that can create excessive ego and needless distractions.

Nichols never lost the healthy chip on his shoulder. The offers and college attention made him more competitive and drove him to attack every day like he still had something to prove.Associated press

“he could have very easily played selfishly and turned it in, but he didn’t. He didn’t because he loved his teammates and loved to play,” clark said. “it’s not always as important to those high-end guys once they get that dream offer of where they want to go. They don’t always treat high school and that experience maybe as importantly as some kids do. But isaiah did.

“that’s the way he was raised, where he has grown into this great football player and great prospect, but he still hasn’t lost that humility.”

Week 1 of the 2017 season, nichols put the state on notice with a performance unlike anything clark and his defensive staff had ever witnessed up close. Usually when springdale won it would have 3-4 players grade out in the high 20s, possibly low 30s on defensive coordinator brett hobbs’ production chart.Associated press

“I’ve never seen a game where a defensive lineman dominated the way he did,” clark said. “the previous high was like 52 that hobbs has had. I told the team this, there has been, even around here, some really, really good defensive linemen. What makes isaiah different is his motor. In practice I have to hold him back. He does it every single day.”

In the 2017 opener against conway, nichols recorded 7 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries. (hawgs illustrated photo/ben goff)

Following the win against conway, nichols and springdale reeled off three more wins in a row. It marked the first time since in more than a decade that springdale opened a season 4-0.

The bulldogs went on to win six games and make thier third consecutive playoff appearance. Springdale had its first winning season since 2010.Clark said

“being able to be part of the first 4-0 springdale team since 2005 is a big accomplishment and I know it speaks a lot to what we’re doing to the program,” nichols said. “I played my heart out this season and left it all on the field.”

Nichols signed with arkansas during college football’s first early signing period in december. The month leading up to his dec. 20 signing date, which included the dismissal of arkansas football coach bret bielema, moved in slow motion, he said.

The family was admittedly worried about what was next for arkansas post-bielema, and discussed all of isaiah’s options and the possibility of going elsewhere.

“I prayed about it a lot. I wanted him to have clarity,” susan said. “but he was never willing to decommit. He never wavered in that respect.

“as his parents, we had to try to give him as much information as possible and figure things out.High school he still wanted to go to arkansas. That was his dream.”

Staying close to home meant the world to his parents. So did a reassuring in-home visit from chad morris and barry lunney jr. 10 days before signing day. Morris raved about the experience and the significance of gaining nichols’ signature.

“this guy had opportunities to wherever he wanted to go. To be able to bring this young man in here is really exciting to us,” morris said. “for us to come up there and spend time with he and his family, his mom and dad and his sister was valuable.”

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