By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer
The 2020 football season was perhaps the strangest one in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eisenhower Eagles were not able to hold spring practice and head coach Eric Jackson and his staff entered the fall season looking for a quarterback.
It appears they found a good one in sophomore Ryan Niblett.
Niblett won the job and led the Eagles to a 3-4 record and a playoff berth, and now Jackson has two more years to hone the young man’s considerable talents.
In his first varsity season, Niblett rushed for 1,017 yards (he averaged 145 yards per game), passed for 323 yards, scored 12 rushing touchdowns and threw three scoring passes. That effort earned him the Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Jackson said he is excited to have Niblett around for another two years.
“Ryan is an intelligent player and for a young guy he understands the game. He has really good football knowledge.”
Jackson said Niblett said the 6-0, 170-pounder has excellent speed and quickness, traits that are needed to run the Eagles’ spread offense.
He earned the starting quarterback job and even though he was just a sophomore, he quickly earned the respect of his teammates.
“He leads by example and as he gets older, he’ll be more of a vocal leader,” Jackson said. “We like to put our best athlete at quarterback. We will continue to build our team around the things he can do.”
Niblett’s best game came against Aldine High where he scored three touchdowns and rushed for 180 yards.
Niblett, who also plays basketball and runs varsity track (he runs the 100-, 200- meters, and competes in the long jump and triple jump), is looking forward to his next two years running the Eagles’ spread offense.
“I’m excited about the future,” he said.
And what part of his game does he need to work on to be a more complete QB?
“I need to work on my accuracy as a passer and I need to focus on getting stronger.”
Niblett, a solid all-around athlete, said football is his favorite sport.
“I like everything about it,” he said. “I just like being on the field.”
And Jackson and the Eagles are more than happy to have Niblett around for another two years!