January 19, 2019

No Off-Season: Matt Nichols keeping busy ahead of 2019

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

WINNIPEG — Matt Nichols has been a pretty busy guy so far this off-season.

Of course the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback is preparing for his fifth season in the blue and gold but he’s also been taking some time to prepare for when he decides to hang up his cleats down the road.

The 31-year-old is currently working on his Sport and Athletic Administration Master’s program at Gonzaga University and is enrolled in an internship, giving him a unique perspective on how sporting events happen.

“It’s been interesting for me because I’ve been playing quarterback for 26 years now and I’ve only probably attended a handful of games in my life as a fan and definitely not as a employee,” Nichols told members of the media during a press conference on Thursday.

“Getting to see the ticket side of it, working with donors, to doing little things like taking stats onto the court during media time outs. Things that you don’t realize as a player, all the little jobs it takes to make a sporting event happen. That part of it’s been awesome for me to just get that experience. It’s nice to do something outside of football and get that experience. It’s been an awesome thing.”

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Nichols is also using this off-season to fine tune different aspects of his game while also focusing on nutrition.

“Things have to change training wise for me,” said Nichols, who was visiting Winnipeg this week to do a few community engagements. “I do feel like there’s some things that I do extremely well. I do recognize the things that I need to get better at. My main focus now is continuing to evolve the diet with all of the information that’s out there now, there’s no excuse not to be eating correctly and be in the best shape possible. My plan is to be in the best shape of my life coming into training camp.”

Nichols enjoyed a career season in 2017, completing 411 of his 579 passes for 4,472 yards, 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. To go along with those impressive numbers, Nichols added mobility to his game, using his feet to escape the pocket and extend plays. He got away from that style of play in 2018 – where he suited up in 14 games and threw 3,146 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions – but says wants to work on adding it back in this season.

“I thought I took a positive step in 2017 of running around a little bit more and making some more plays with my feet,” said Nichols. “Maybe got away from that a little bit too much last year and would like to implement that back into my game. I think there’s some real opportunities that are there for big plays, extending plays and using my feet a little bit more.

“Just trying to be in the best shape possible and teach my brain to go through my reads and not forget about the other option of taking off and running and making play when I’m scrambling around. That’s something that I’m extremely focused on this off-season.”

With free agency on the horizon, the Blue Bombers have numerous pending free agents that may hit the open market. And as if Nichols isn’t busy enough this off-season, he’s also adding recruiter to his resume, pitching Winnipeg to whoever may ask.

“There’s guys that will come to me without me having to seek them out that want to know about Winnipeg and want to know about the coaching staff here, about the locker room dynamics,” Nichols said when asked if he is trying to recruit free agents to stay in Winnipeg. “I already get guys that just reach out to my on their own that want to be a part of what we’ve got going on here. Then obviously as it gets closer (to free agency) we might have some more targeted guys.

“If I have any knowledge of anyone that we’re interested in, I’ll definitely go out of my way and let those guys know what we’ve got going on here and definitely give my pitch as to why some of these guys should come here and help us win a championship.”

– With files from BlueBombers.com