Wednesday on WWLS Radio, Bob Barry Jr. and I had the chance to talk with Oklahoma quarterback commit Keith Nichol and his coach, Noel Dean, about his decision.
JH: Keith, tell us about your commitment to Oklahoma?
KN: "When I went down to Oklahoma I don't know what my intentions were. I was just trying to keep an open mind. I was just looking around and saw everything that I liked in college football program. The opportunities were there that any other quarterback in the country would want, so I just accepted it and saw an opportunity and I took it."
BBJ: You had originally committed to Michigan State, so did this situation at Oklahoma just kind of pop up out of nowhere or did you have your eye on OU for a long time?
KN: "Oklahoma was sending me letters throughout when I was committed just trying to keep my interest. They were one of the first schools that were on the scene when Michigan State was going through a coaching change. When I was trying to figure out my future, the first school that I came up with was Oklahoma just because it stuck with me their tradition and their program.
"I look back and that was really important now. Oklahoma has just been there with me. When coach (Bob) Stoops and coach (Josh) Heupel came to my house and I went down to Oklahoma, I was really impressed. I saw all the opportunities and then more. I saw that was where I wanted to be and I kind of went with my gut feeling. I am really happy with my decision."
JH: Coach Dean, what kind of player is Keith Nichol?
ND: "I think he is a pretty physical kind of a kid who is a fierce competitor. He is that kind of a player that comes with a skill set that is unparallel, at least the state of Michigan."
BBJ: Were you surprised in Keith's decision to change that commitment or did you just leave it open to him all the time?
ND: "We have a great relationship, the two of us do, and I am not surprised by it at all. I kind of felt that he was compelled to look at somebody else, especially considering a lot of the circumstances that were going on at MSU. MSU went in a whole new direction without consulting Keith. I know that they don't have to, but it is only fair that Keith is able to go ahead and look at some other options as a 17-year old boy."
JH: You were committed to Michigan State for a long and then you decided on OU in hurry. Did your quick decision have anything to do with the fact that quarterbacks always seem to look for opportunity to play as much as they do anything else?
KN: "The whole commitment is about opportunity. It didn't have a lot to do with what was going on at Michigan State, it just had a lot to do with what was going on at Oklahoma. I just felt that the opportunity was great and no other program could offer what OU had going on anywhere else in the country. I just felt that is where I needed to be and to play for the next four or five years."
BBJ: Coach, what kind of player or what kind of style of quarterback is Keith Nichol?
ND: "Keith has been a three-time, first-team all-state quarterback in our largest division here in Michigan. He has been named the Player of the Year the last two years. He is a very mobile quarterback, he is very intelligent and he makes a lot of great reads. From that standpoint, he is very intelligent, very mobile and he has great arm strength. I know on a lot of the film that people watch on the Internet comes from his 10th grade year, because we really didn't distribute a lot of film after his commitment to MSU. If they get a chance to watch what he is done in the past year or so, they will be impressed by his ability.
"The other thing is that Keith is such a high talent that when he is working with the receivers who are around him who aren't as talented, a lot of times he is trying to throw catchable footballs, if you know what I mean. He doesn't have a lot of D-1 receivers trying to catch the ball on the other end. From that standpoint, he is very smart and he knows to throw the football to the right kid and the right way that he needs throw it to that kid. That is a lot to process in a matter of 2.5 seconds."
JH: Keith, I guess the bad weather in Oklahoma on the weekend that you visited didn't bother you huh?
KN: "I am getting used to a lot of people saying that I brought the weather with me. They say that they only get that weather once or twice a year and it is kind of funny that I was there for those two days."
JH: What did it feel like for you guys to go through our worst winter, while you guys go through stuff like that almost every day in the winter?
KN: "I was talking to coach and my dad, and I was about to not even bring my sweatshirt with me. It was funny to see traffic with just a half-inch or inch of snow going 20 miles an hour. They were clearing the roads with road-graters and stuff. It was kind of funny to see."
ND: "Yeah, the snowplow business needs to pick up. You need more than one snowplow. You guys have a great airport. We got to spend a lot of time in the airport. It is nice and clean with friendly people and a lot of nice shops."
BBJ: What were your impressions of Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game?
KN: "It was awesome. I had all my friends over to watch it. My friends and family where over there and we were all excited to see Oklahoma doing so well. We were all talking about me going there. It was fun to see the Big 12 Championship occur right in front of me knowing that could happen in the future. So, I was excited to see it."
JH: Coach Dean, from what you have seen from Oklahoma do you believe that Keith will have any problem at all learning the offense?
ND: "Keith is a competitor and I don't think anything is impossible for Keith. He is going to rise to the next level and he is going to do it in a hurry. He always has. One of the remarkable things about Keith is that he has never really realized what he is. I think that is what makes him such a great person. Once he steps into the next arena he will just pop in there and do a great job, and he will compete.
"I don't see anything but greatness for him in the future. I think it is going to be a great marriage for Keith to go to Oklahoma and be a great part of a team, and not necessarily have to carry the team."
BBJ: Did you grow up with a favorite player that you tried to pattern your playing style after?
KN: "I liked John Elway growing up just because he was leader and a competitor. Of course, everybody likes Mike Vick because he is so flashy, but I wouldn't say that I try to get my style from anybody else. It is just kind of what I have molded into working with coach Dean and what I have been able to learn on my own. I am not trying to be like anybody else, I am just doing what is given to me."
JH: You don't mind running the football do you?
KN: "No, I like taking what is given to me. If I can run, I am going to run. And if I am going to pass it, then I am going to pass it. I just try to get the football game going and do what I can."
ND: "Keith has rushed for over 1,000 yards the last three years here in Michigan. So he has thrown for over 2,000 and rushed for over 1,000 the last three years. If you want more information on him you can to go our website, lowellfootball.com, which has a lot of information on Keith, our team and our program."
Nichol, coach talk about decision
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