Prep football: Superior athleticism key for Bingham RB
There is something different about Scott Nichols.
He's a starting running back at Bingham High School, a program known for producing 1,000-yard rushers nearly every season, a program renowned for punishing defenses with big-bodied bruisers.Â
Scott Nichols gets the job done as a 5-foot-10, 175-pound back.Â
As Bingham running backs coach Iloa Vakapuna says, Nichols is just another kid when he's not on the football field, just an average-sized high school student.
"He's more of a Clark Kent," Vakapuna said. "But when he straps it on, he's a whole different person."
Then he transforms into, well, you know the story.
"He's one of the hardest working, most athletic kids I've had in my 30 years of coaching," Bingham coach Dave Peck said, "and it's showing."
Bingham has done what it typically does through three games: Run the ball, own the clock and control tempo. And it's been Nichols, who continually has turned heads with his elusiveness in the backfield, at the forefront.Â
In Saturday's overtime win over Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Colorado's No. 1-ranked team, Nichols pinged around the backfield waiting for the perfect lane to open up, just as he always has.Â
When he finds a crease, he owns it. In his first carry against the Eagles, he slipped past three defensive linemen, bowled over a linebacker and nearly hit his highest gear before a defender had to pull him down by the bottom of his white Bingham jersey.
"Since I've been playing at age 8 as a running back, I've just kind of developed good vision," he said.Â
More than just kind of. And it's more than just vision.
After rushing for 613 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior in 2012, Nichols, who is described by his peers and coaches as a phenomenal athlete, obliterated every top 10 competition held by the Miners each year. Events such as lifts, a mile run, a 40-yard dash and others. Nichols dominated all of them. Peck said he "blew away" the accumulated points in all 10 events.
Peck also said Nichols did 89 "dips," an exercise in which an athlete places all of his weight on two bars and lowers his body as far down as possible and comes back up.
The previous record was somewhere in the 60s.
"If a kid does 30," Peck said, laughing, "then that's amazing. Scotty did 89."
Vakapuna has coached Nichols since he was a 14-year-old freshman. He remembers having to remind Nichols that even as a junior varsity player, he no longer could use his speed to simply outrun every opponent like he did in his early football years.
"I think now his knowing how to understand the defenses and making pre-snap reads to utilize that vision is working really well," Vakapuna said. "He's always got his head on a swivel, even when he's going full speed."
Nichols said he is no different from any other Bingham player. Football always has been there for him, since he was a youngster playing Pee Wee. He saw his older brother win back-to-back Class 5A titles with the Miners in 2009 and 2010.Â That's his ultimate motivating factor.
"I just want to get my team to the state championship," he said.
In preparation for the Valor Christian game, Vakapuna had Nichols break down tape of Eagles star running back Christian McCaffrey, a Stanford commit who ran for more than 200 yards against the Miners on Saturday.
Vakapuna told Nichols he has the same ability, adding that he's a couple inches shorter and about 20 pounds lighter.Â
Nichols turned his head and said, "Thanks, coach."
Scott Nichols file
School • Bingham
Position • Running back
Year • Senior
Height • 5-foot-10
Weight • 175 pounds