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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Zak Clark, head football coach at Springdale High School (RIGHT) visits with defensive lineman Isaiah Nichols before Nichols signed a national letter of intent with the University of Arkansas Wednesday Dec. 20, 2017. - Photo by J.T. Wampler

SPRINGDALE -- Isaiah Nichols knows all about the process of rebuilding a football program.

It's another reason Nichols is a good fit for Arkansas and coach Chad Morris, who will attempt to rebuild a Razorback program that went 29-34, including 11-29 in SEC play, in five years under former coach Bret Bielema. Nichols signed a letter of intent with the Razorbacks on Wednesday at Springdale High during the first of two signing periods for college football.

Nichols committed to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in June and reaffirmed his commitment to the Razorbacks during an in-home visit with Morris earlier this month. The senior defensive lineman chose Arkansas over offers from several Division I programs, including Missouri and Mississippi State from the SEC.

Nichols is the first player from Springdale to sign with the Razorbacks since Mitch Smothers, who played his senior year with the Bulldogs in 2010.

"Coach Morris came to my house and I got to visit with him for about an hour," Nichols said. "He is a great guy. The morals he has are the same ones I've grown up with. He has a blueprint for success and I can't wait to be a part of it and get this show on the road."

Nichols (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) finished his senior season with 69 tackles, including 22 for loss, 11 sacks and 38 quarterback hurries. He also caught a touchdown pass on Senior Night against Rogers, but Arkansas recruited Nichols on his ability to be disruptive in the backfield.

"Isaiah, we knew he was going to Arkansas, and he could've easily taken days off or practices off, but he didn't do that," Springdale coach Zak Clark said. "He was our hardest worker in practice and he is a pleasure to coach. You couple those type things with his ability as a football player and the sky is the limit for him."

Nichols was a primary factor in Clark's rebuilding process at Springdale, where he took over after the Bulldogs went 0-10 in 2014. The Bulldogs won two games in 2015, four games in 2016, and six wins this season. The six wins were the most for Springdale since 2010.

Nichols was at his best in big games his senior year, beginning with a 19-17 victory over a Conway team that finished the season 9-4. He graded out at 81 against the Wampus Cats and finished the game with seven tackles, three sacks and seven hurries.

"I've been watching the Razorbacks since I was a kid, so this day is a dream come true for me," said Nichols, who will enroll at Arkansas in January. "All the hard work I've been putting in has paid off."

Sports on 12/21/2017

Print Headline: Nichols good fit for rebuilding Razorbacks

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