Named the MVP of the championship game played at Birmingham's Legion Field, Nickson finished the 2003 season 181-of-319 passing for 2,963 yards and 42 touchdowns, with only nine interceptions. He rushed for 1,488 yards on 230 carries and scored 25 touchdowns, including an interception and punt return. He set a new state record by accounting for a staggering total of 67 touchdowns.
Nickson, who has granted very few interviews since signing with Vanderbilt, spoke recently with TheInsiders.com.
TheInsiders.com: Chris, you were quite an all-purpose athlete in addition to a football star, and you won the Mr. Football award as the top player in Alabama. What sports did you play this spring?
Chris Nickson: Baseball. We had a pretty good season. I played both pitcher and shortstop.
TheInsiders.com: You ended up signing at Vanderbilt, but as the top player in Alabama, I'm guessing there had to be a lot of pressure on you from the in-state schools, Alabama and Auburn. Tell us how you arrived at your decision to attend Vanderbilt.
Chris Nickson: Basically it was just the opportunity to make a difference. I got a real feel for the place. When I went there on my visit, everybody treated me like I was family. That's all I was looking for… a place where I can come in and grow and become a better person as well as a better athlete. And plus, I liked the quarterback situation. Those are the things I based my decision on. As it turned out, Vandy opened up the perfect opportunity for me, so I took that chance.
TheInsiders.com: There were rumors that you had made your decision, but you chose not to say anything until after signing day. At what point in the recruiting process did you actually make your decision? Was it right after you made your visit to Vanderbilt?
TheInsiders.com: Coach Johnson says that you are already the No. 3 quarterback the minute you step on campus.
Chris Nickson: Yeah, you can't ask for a better situation than that. Some quarterbacks dream of that, and I had that opportunity. Like I said, it was a great opportunity. You just can't turn an opportunity like that down.
TheInsiders.com: Have the coaches talked with you any about whether you might be redshirted your first year?
Chris Nickson: We haven't really gotten to talk about it yet, no. As far as I know right now, I probably will be redshirted, but I'm not sure yet. We really haven't discussed it.
TheInsiders.com: You were kind of a double-threat (running/passing) quarterback in high school. The Vanderbilt offense seems like it's just almost perfect for you. Would you agree?
Chris Nickson: It is. It's perfect. It's a dual-type offense, and you can do so many things out of it. I feel like there are some things that I can bring to the table to help it. It just kind of fits me. The offense fits me, and I fit them. It seems like a perfect match. And plus, the coaching staff is an absolutely great staff. They knew what they were getting themselves into when they recruited me. They knew what type of quarterback they wanted… and they went after me! So I couldn't turn them down.
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