From third stringer to first teamer

By Nathan Lindquist

When the 2005 football season began, Dan Nicholson was an unknown third-string quarterback relegated to giving signals from the sidelines. But after starter Phil Horvath broke his arm Saturday at Central Michigan, the redshirt freshman was called upon and threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns to give the Huskies a 31-28 win.

The Northern Star caught up to the new starting signal caller and chatted about the upcoming Toledo game, his star wide receiver and his sudden amnesia regarding his Halloween costume.

Northern Star: As the third-string quarterback entering this season, did you think you were going to start so soon?

Dan Nicholson: I didn’t know when. It was unfortunate that Phil had to get hurt. I’m just happy to now get my chance.

NS: NIU has always been a running team. What made you want to come here?

DN: It was close to home and I really loved it here. I loved the coaches, especially [head coach Joe] Novak. All the players were real nice when I came and visited.

NS: What will the team and you have to do to beat Toledo? Does it help being an underdog?

DN: We just got to have a great week of practice just like we had before Central Michigan. They’re a good team. Being an underdog doesn’t change our mindset. We’re going to prepare the same way.

NS: What quarterback in the NFL do you model yourself after?

DN: I really like Tom Brady. I like the way he leads his team and he came out of nowhere.

NS: How good has Sam Hurd been this year? Did you see this coming?

DN: I saw it coming. He’s been unbelievable this year. In the summer, I saw how hard he worked and he put on 15 pounds of muscle. I was so happy to see him get MAC Player of the Week. He’s a very vocal leader of our team.

NS: Since you reach under the center’s butt for every snap, does it make you wish for a shotgun offense?

DN: No no, it doesn’t bother me.

NS: Will the University of Illinois ever play us or are they too scared of getting beat?

DN: I really have no idea. I wasn’t here the last time they played. All I know is we played them real tough.

NS: What do you do in spare time outside of football?

DN: I play cards a lot. And some video games.

NS: If you could be on one team in the NFL, what would it be?

DN: Definitely the Chicago Bears. That’s my hometown team.

NS: Do you or any teammates have any crazy superstitions before games?

DN: Not really for me. I keep to myself, I’m not a big yeller or screamer. Last year, Josh Haldi always wore his high school football shirt under his pads.

NS: So what did you dress up as for Halloween?

DN: Man, I don’t even know. It was a last-minute costume. I can’t remember for the life of me.