Matt Nichols, with his performance on the field, has made it clear throughout the 2009 college football season that he is back.
And the Big Sky Conference confirmed as much on Tuesday by naming Eastern Washington University’s senior quarterback the league’s most valuable offensive player.
Nichols, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder and four-year starter from Cottonwood, Calif., amassed a league-high 3,454 yards of total offense and completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,369 yards and 30 touchdowns this fall in leading the Eagles to a second-place finish in the Big Sky standings and an at-large berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs that start this weekend.
“Matt has done a great job, in my opinion, to rebound from what he would feel like wasn’t the junior season he wanted to have coming off a really big sophomore season,” EWU head coach Beau Baldwin said of Nichols, who was named the Big Sky’s offensive MVP as a sophomore in 2007 when he threw for 3,744 yards and a school-record 34 touchdowns but then failed to make the all-conference team the following year. “He’s been a great leader, and he’s had a great season.
“He watched more film in the offseason and just did a lot of things on his own to get better. And now, because of that, he’s in this position.”
Nichols was one of five Eastern players to receive first-team all-conference honors. The others included senior tight end Nathan Overbay, sophomore running back Taiwan Jones, sophomore defensive tackle Renard Williams and junior linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who was one of six unanimous first-team selections, along with Montana State’s senior defensive end Dane Fletcher, who was named the league’s defensive MVP.
Second-team picks from Eastern included senior wide receivers Aaron Boyce and Tony Davis.
Montana’s Levi Horn, a senior offensive tackle and former standout at Rogers High School, was named to the first-team, while teammate Tyler Hobbs, a junior defensive tackle out of West Valley High, was named to the honorable mention list.