By Jackson Sveen

DAVIDSON - In 2000, Paul Nichols led Davidson to its only undefeated football season as quarterback for the Wildcats. Now, he’s back as the head coach.

Nichols, 31, a coach at the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision level since 2004, becomes the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I football. His appointment as the school’s 27th head football coach was announced on Dec. 21.

“People have asked why come back to Davidson,” Nichols said. “It’s easy for me, there’s no place like home. Every college in the country has great facilities. But people make the place and that’s what makes this place so special.”

Nichols has worked for football programs at Ohio State, Marshall, Toledo and Illinois before making his way back to his alma mater.

A native of Dunwoody, Ga., Nichols graduated from Davidson College in 2003 with bachelor’s degrees in political science and history.

Nichols departed as the school record holder for career passing yards (5,822) completions (465) and touchdown passes (51), and compiled a 22-6 record as a starting quarterback. After seeing limited action as a freshman, Nichols won the starting job prior to his sophomore year and guided the ‘Cats to a 10-0 season.

Nichols was asked what the key to that undefeated season was and how he’ll try to capture that magic and bring it back to Davidson.

“The key to any great team is unselfishness,” Nichols said. “The guys on that football team were unselfish players and coaches and we worked together as a unit. It was not just one guy, it was an entire football team.”

Nichols’ junior year was cut short by a knee injury, but he bounced back as a senior and matched the school record for touchdown passes in a single season with 25.

Nichols and his wife, the former Lauran Lightmas, a 2004 graduate of Davidson, have a son, Drew who was born May 26, 2011.