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90 Days to Purdue Football: Isaiah Nichols

The former Arkansas Razorback brings size and experience to the defensive line.

Rice v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In order for Coach Walters’s defense to work, he needed to bring in a different sort of defensive end than Purdue used under Coach Brohm. The defensive ends in the new 5 man front routinely get individual matchups against guards. They need to be strong enough to hold the point of attack in the run game, and athletic enough to get into the backfield and make plays.


Isaiah Nichols

Senior (RS)

Spingdale, Ark (Springdale HS

6’3”, 315

Defensive End

2023 Projection: Starter/Key Depth

Nichols has a ton of high level football under his belt already, and is looking to break out in Coach Walters’s new look defense. At Illinois, the defensive ends wreaked havoc on the Big10 last season, and Nichols wants a piece of that action.

As a redshirt freshman for Arkansas in 2019, he played in 12 games. He only put up 17 tackles but was on the field for 296 defensive snaps. That’s a good bit for a former 3* redshirt freshman in the SEC.

His sophomore year (aka the Covid year) saw him further establish himself as a key member of the Arkansas defensive line. He played in 9 games, including 7 starts, allowing him to log 475 defensive snaps, 24 tackles, .5 tackles-for-loss and .5 sacks. Again, not earth shattering, but consistent.

In 2021 he move back to the bench, appearing in 13 games but only starting 3. He finished the season with 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.

Finally, in 2022, Nichols became the full time starter at defensive tackle, registering 16 tackles, and a tackle for loss. That may not seem like much production, but that’s more because of the system he was in than lack of talent. His job at Arkansas was to play inside, eat up blocks, and keep linebackers clean. At Purdue, he’ll be asked to line up against guards, get into the backfield, and make things happen. It should be a nice change of pace for the big man.

I’m not sure if he starts, or if he’ll be a key rotation piece, but either way, expect to see big number 90 on the field a good bit in 2023.