The Green Bay Packers have a rich history at the running back position. From Tony Canadeo to Jim Taylor to Paul Hornung to Dorsey Levens to Ryan Grant to Aaron Jones, there are no shortage of great names sprinkled throughout the team’s 100+ year history. Jones, of course, is the current premier running back and is currently third in team history with 5,284 career rushing yards. Seventh round pick Lew Nichols may be sitting behind Jones and AJ Dillon right now, but he has been studying Jones in particular for many years now. Indeed, the Packers took a chance on Nichols in the seventh because his game is modeled after his.
Green Bay Packers Running Backs Aaron Jones and Lew Nichols Had the Same Position Coach in College
Due to his being taken in the seventh round, not many people realize that Lew Nichols was the NCAA rushing leader in 2021. That season, he ran for 1,848 yards and 16 touchdowns. Perhaps that’s because playing at Central Michigan did not give him the the publicity that playing at a Power Five school might have. In any case, there is a reason that he was so effective in college. The running back coach at Central Michigan is Cornell Jackson, who held the same role at the University of Texas-El Paso when Aaron Jones played there.
Following the Packers’ rookie minicamp this weekend, Nichols spoke to the media about how Jackson helped prepare him for the NFL by making him study Jones’ college and NFL game tape:
“We had the same running back coach; so, my years in college, we always watched his college film. We ran similar plays at Central [Michigan]. So, meeting him yesterday, it was kind of surreal moment [and I got to] pick his brain a little bit. That’s definitely a blessing to have that connection.”
Nichols also said that both Jones and Dillon reached out to him prior to mini camp:
“Those guys have already reached out to me and are trying to take me under their wing. So that’s exciting – just to get in a room and get coached up by those guys and see how they move as professionals. It’s definitely exciting.”
The Packers have one of the best backfields in the NFL with Jones and Dillon, both of whom are capable of putting up 1,000+ all purpose yards. In fact, each of them did so in 2021. After this season, Dillon will be a free agent and, well, who knows what the team will decide to do with Jones, who decided to take a pay cut to stay with the team this season.
When Dillon was drafted in 2020, Jones and then backup running back Jamaal Williams both played major roles in mentoring him. It sounds like the two current Packers backs are taking the same approach with Nichols. Regardless of what happens after 2023, fans should absolutely enjoy having high-quality individuals on their team.
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