Lew Nichols III leaving Central Michigan to train for 2023 NFL draft

Detroit Free Press

A season after Central Michigan sent a pair of offensive linemen to the NFL, the primary beneficiary of their pro-level talent plans to take his shot at the next level.

Running back Lew Nichols III, who led the nation with 1,848 rushing yards in 2021, declared for the 2023 NFL draft on Monday and signed with Detroit agency VIP Sports Management. The Detroit Cass Tech product averaged 5.4 yards a carry for the Chippewas during his chart-topping season, carrying the ball 341 times and adding 16 touchdowns. He also had 40 receptions for 338 yards and two TDs as CMU made a surprise run to the Sun Bowl and defeated Washington State in El Paso, Texas, on New Year’s Eve.

BEFORE THE SEASON:CMU football retooling in 2022, but RB Lew Nichols III is good starting point

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But last season, both CMU and Nichols took a step back. Hampered by injuries (and the departures of Luke Goedeke and Bernhard Raimann for the pros), Nichols rushed 177 times for 601 yards and six TDs over nine games. CMU dropped to 4-8, though they were competitive in matchups against Power Five foes Oklahoma State and Penn State.

After rushing for at least 100 yards in 10 of CMU’s 13 games in 2021, Nichols reached the century mark just once in 2022, picking up 166 yards on 30 carries against FCS-level Bucknell on Sept. 17. His 13-carry, 67-yard performance (a 5.2-yards-per-carry average) against Penn State the following week was his only other 2022 game in which he averaged more than 3.5 yards a carry.

Nichols will train for the draft in South Florida, according to his agency. The 2023 draft is set for April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Although the Chips have had several players drafted over the past decade, no CMU RB has been drafted since Donnie Riley went in the 12th round in 1990.

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