Nickson ready to return to Alabama

When Vanderbilt ventures to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday, it will be a homecoming for more than eleven Commodores. Alabamans among the starters on offense and defense are safety Reshard Langford from Tanner, receiver Earl Bennett from Birmingham's West End High, and quarterback Chris Nickson from Pike County High.

After starting his first collegiate game in the "Big House" at Michigan, Nickson goes from the frying pan to the fire against the Crimson Tide and defensive mastermind Joe Kines.

"They're (Alabama) are just as good as Michigan," Nickson said. "They are probably a little more aggressive on defense."

Nickson was heavily recruited by Alabama while he was in high school. Former brief-time Crimson Tide coach Mike Price offered Nickson a scholarship during his sophomore year of high school. Nickson grew up as an Alabama fan, and he seriously weighed the option of playing for the Tide. He eventually chose Vanderbilt over Alabama as well as Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, Louisville, and Alabama-Birmingham. As Valedictorian of his senior class, academics played a big role in his final decision.

Besides returning to his home state, Nickson will be facing a familiar face when he looks across the field Saturday. "My cousin Nick Walker plays tight end there. Growing up, we played everything together—football, basketball, and baseball." In 2003, the Nickson-to-Walker passing attack helped Pike County High School (Brundidge, AL) to the class 3A State Title. "Both of us were successful in the football arena," Nickson said. "We both were very competitive. He made his decision to go there, and I came here, and now we get the opportunity to play against each other. It's going to be great."

What are Nickson's feelings about going to Tuscaloosa as the starting quarterback for Vanderbilt? "I'm excited about it. I think this is a wonderful opportunity. I don't think it creates hype. It's a great thing to be able to go back home and let in-state people, the people you've been around all your life, see you play. It's just a fun thing."

Alabama held Hawaii's famed run and shoot offense to just 17 points, although Warriors' quarterback Colt Brennan completed 30 of 44 passes for 350 yards. Tide pass rushers sacked Brennan three times. The Tide will present Nickson with another tough challenge.

Nickson hopes the experience he gained in the Michigan game will help him improve in his second start. He revealed that the game began to slow down for him with each snap against the Wolverines. Against Michigan, he completed 11 of 25 passes for 99 yards. Factoring out six sacks for 42 yards, he rushed 10 times for 64 yards, but he fumbled twice. Concerning his play last week, Nickson said, "I think our offensive line did a great job. Some things and situations, I could have done a lot better to make it easier on them."

After watching fellow Alabaman Earl Bennett throw the 30-yard touchdown pass to Marlon White, Nickson told Bennett "It was right on the money. I told him he could take my spot any time he's ready."


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