Keith Nichol Needs To Be a Spartan

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There are multiple types of college athletes. There are those who embrace their university and are truly appreciative of their opportunity. There are also those who seem to only be passing the time until they get to the next step in their life…whatever that may be. And then there’s that one, special type of athlete. You know the one: The guy (or girl) who wants to be the face of the program, the big shot on campus, and the player that leads the program to glory. Keith Nichols strikes me as that type of guy. 

When Keith first committed to MSU, the Spartans were running a Spread-Option attack that allowed a QB to put up big numbers in the air as well as stretch the field with his legs. Something Keith saw Drew Stanton do and wanted in on. But when MSU FINALLY fired John LWWLLLLL. Smith and hired Mark Dantonio Nichol was unsure whether or not he wanted to run the Pro style offense for the Green and White. So he headed down to Norman to play for one of the most prestigious programs in the country…and promptly lost the up-for-grabs starting job to another freshman…and the back up spot, leaving him as the third QB on the depth chart. 

Now that wasn’t a knock on the kid’s ability, after all he was one of the best QB’s in the Midwest if not the country. He just happened to walk into a program with other highly touted QB’s. But the second he chose OU, some (not all) Spartan fans jumped at him for, wait a minute get ready for this one, changing his mind. Who among us hasn’t second thought about something? Maybe glanced down at the multiple choice test and changed some answers? This was a kid who mad a move that he thought best fit his style. A program that wasn’t far removed from a Heisman winning QB who COULDN’T move, imagine what Nichol could do with his athleticism. But it wasn’t meant to be there. So now might he consider the school where he was once thought to be the future? He should. 

The key to continued success in college football is consistent QB play. Now injuries will happen during a season and no injury can ruin a season faster than one to the starting QB. But great programs have depth at that position. USC comes to mind where Matt Leinart sat behind Carson Palmer before he got his shot. And John David Booty sat behind Leinart. QB’s aren’t dumb, they know every QB on the roster isn’t going to be a 4-year starter…but one of them might, and all of them can contribute. MSU should try to take advantage of the opportunity of strengthening it’s depth at the QB spot. We all know that this is Brian Hoyer’s team this year, but next year, now that Connor Dixon has left the program, it’s a two man race between two red shirt sophomores: Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins. Now 2009 freshman Andrew Maxwell could jump in that mix, but I doubt this coaching staff will hand the rains over to a kid who’s new to their system rather than two players who’ve been here for 2 years. Now throw Nichol in there and you have 3 solid QB’s and a freshman who could be a surprise. That’s a very deep and talented group, even though Nichol, Foles, and Cousins would all be sophomores in 2009. MSU could still red shirt either Maxwell and/or Nichol and put a year between them all so that by 2010 you’d have 2 juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman. Now I know that sounds like a lot to go through, but it’s feasible. 

But before any of that happens, Keith Nichol should come home. That position is the one that takes the most verbal abuse is the most scrutinized, and it is no secret that a QB that has family nearby would be more comfortable dealing with it. Going through the hard times of the position are hard enough when your support system is 1,000 miles away. I would imagine it would benefit Keith as much as MSU for him to come back to his home state, to where he feels comfortable to attend school. And I’m sure the Spartan Nation would welcome him with open arms.