Ep. 1—Isaiah Nichols: Sophomore to Scholarship

He grew up in a small Arkansas town without a chance to play the sport he loved.  Soccer was available and he excelled at it while quietly dreaming of being a football player.  Right before high school, a family to move to Northwest Arkansas opened that door.

Springdale High defensive end Isaiah Nichols did not begin playing football until his sophomore year in 2015.  As a raw young player, he struggled to find his place. Something changed the summer before his junior season.

Nichols exploded on the scene as a junior earning All State honors in his first full season of varsity competition.  His 12.5-tackles-for-loss led his team and caught the eye of college recruiters across the country.

With 15 Division one scholarship offers in hand, Nichols had his eye on earning an opportunity to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.  He was given one chance by the coaching staff at Arkansas to earn a scholarship before his senior season, receiving an invitation to attend the Arkansas Trench Hog Camp in June.

Determined to show his home state team his talent, Nichols dominated the camp. Head Coach Bret Bielema described him as “unblockable” and “amazing”, offering Nichols a scholarship on the spot.

The offer, which came on Father’s Day, brought tears of joy to his family as they watched Isaiah complete his mission.  With a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream Nichols accepted the offer and will enroll at Arkansas in January as an early enrollee.

With his immediate football future set, Nichols is focused on completing the task of bringing Springdale High football back to prominence in Arkansas.

Spirit 52, is a series of weekly feature stories connected to high school communities in Arkansas.  This series is meant to capture the real spirit of sports while inspiring high school students to achieve what is possible.  These stories will focus on the good, the true and beautiful.

Each new story will be posted on Thursday afternoon here on Sport & Story