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Inside the Headset with the AFCA

Aug 27, 2020

This week on Inside the Headset, we are featuring Coach Paul Nichols. Coach Nichols shares unique lessons he has learned throughout his career, highlights the significance of developing relationships with players, and discusses the importance of learning through self-reflection.

Coach Paul Nichols was most recently an offensive quality control specialist for Georgia Tech, where he assisted the coaching staff with opponent scouting and game-planning.

A 14-year veteran of NCAA Division I football staffs, Nichols spent five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Davidson College, before joining the staff at Georgia Tech. He was the youngest head coach in all of Division I, at age 31, when he took over at Davidson in 2013. Nichols was still the second-youngest Division I head coach in the nation in 2017.

In 2012, Nichols served as the director of player personnel at Illinois, where he coordinated on-campus recruiting efforts and relations with high school coaches, among other duties. Prior to his time at Illinois, Nichols spent three seasons at Toledo as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

Before making his way to Toledo, Nichols served as an assistant at Marshall University for three seasons. Prior to his tenure at Marshall, Nichols completed two seasons as a graduate assistant at Ohio State from 2004-05, where he assisted with the defensive backs and defensive line.

A native of Dunwoody, Ga., Nichols graduated from Marist School in 1999 before matriculating to Davidson. He compiled a 22-6 record as Davidson’s three-year starter at quarterback and, in 2000, helped lead the Wildcats to the only undefeated football season in school history (10-0). He earned first-team all-conference, first-team academic all-conference and honorable-mention all-America recognition as a senior in 2002.

  • [0:27] Start of interview
  • [0:54] Lessons learned as a graduate assistant
  • [3:31] Transitioning from offense to defense
  • [5:44] Expectations as a young head coach at his alma mater
  • [9:33] Learning through experience
  • [15:22] Reflecting and developing
  • [23:27] Becoming flexible in uncertain times