Music City Bulldog

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chris Nickson is one of the main reasons why Vanderbilt University is going to a postseason bowl for the first time in 26 years.

Nickson, a Pike County High School graduate, was 15-of-27 through the air for 155 yards and three touchdowns in the Commodores’ 31-24 victory over Kentucky earlier this year. He also rumbled for 118 yards on the ground in the game.

The win made Vanderbilt bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.

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“It feels special to be going to a bowl,” Nickson said. “Those were some tough conditions we were playing in and I was proud of how I reacted as a leader in that game.”

But through the tough conditions, Nickson remembered something he had heard in church earlier that week.

“I just knew I had to be strong and courageous and go out and win,” Nickson said. “We had talked about being strong and courageous at chapel and that really stuck with me from that service.”

But after the game strength and courageousness turned into happiness.

“It was just extreme jubilation for me after the game,” Nickson said. “I was excited at how everyone played in that game. The offense got a lead and the defense held when we needed them to.”

Nickson has been in and out of the starting lineup this year, but when Vandy needed a boost, the redshirt senior stepped up. But he will not take all the credit for leading the Commodores to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Dec. 31.

“It took every one of those wins to get to the bowl,” Nickson said. “It was not just me who got us there. It was a total team effort and I am just excited to get to play in a bowl.”

Nickson said he has wanted this opportunity since he got to Vandy after winning a state title with the Pike County Bulldogs in 2003.

“This is my fifth year at Vandy and I am excited because it is a great opportunity for the University to show what we can do,” Nickson said. “I am just glad to be a part of the group who initiated the bowl run.”

Nickson said he always relishes the opportunity to win a ring.

“I always find pride in the opportunity to get a ring and there is always that sense of pride that comes with a ring,” he said.

VU head coach Bobby Johnson has not made a decision that will start the bowl game and Nickson did suffer a separated shoulder in the final game of the regular season Nov. 29 against Wake Forest.

“We have been preparing for the bowl, but we did get some time to go home,” Nickson said. “And I was able to come back to Brundidge and spend time with my family.”

Now that Nickson has had time to spend with his family around the Christmas season, it is time to go bowling.

The Music City Bowl kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 31 from LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.