Matt Nolan has excited local fans with his play on the football field and basketball court the past two seasons, and now he gets an opportunity to test his talents at the next level.
Nolan, who helped Carson’s football team to a Division I regular-season title two years ago and led the basketball squad to the regional finals this past winter, has signed a letter of intent to play football at NAIA Division II power William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Because the school doesn’t give out dual scholarships, Nolan will be considered a walk-on in the basketball program. Nolan estimates that he reached out to nearly 100 schools in an effort to land a scholarship.
“They contacted me first for basketball,” Nolan said last week. “They saw my highlight film, but the basketball coach (John Henry) was involved in the NAIA playoffs and didn’t get back to me right away. In the meantime, the football coach (Todd Hafner) messaged me and said he’d seen my football highlight tape. He asked for transcripts and test scores, and I’ve been accepted into school.”
Nolan completed 129 out of 201 passes in his two-year career at Carson with 12 TDs, and ran for 535 yards and three scores. He is being recruited as a quarterback at William Penn, and will likely redshirt his first season because the Statesmen have a three-year QB under center in Taylor Parsons. WPU was 9-3 a year ago.
“The coach told me I could probably get some time at wide receiver as a freshman, but I plan to redshirt and get bigger and stronger,” Nolan said. “Then I will compete for a job my sophomore year. They have a good football program. They run the option, and that’s right up my alley. I did a lot of research on the school, and I’ve been talking to coach (Paul) Carter who went to college there. I’m going to try and get there before school gets out.”
“Their offense requires a mobile, athletic quarterback who can run the option schemes they run,” CHS football coach Blair Roman said. “The only credit I take on this one is helping give Matt the opportunity to excel in a good football program.”
There was one freshman and one sophomore listed on the current roster, but the school did sign three other freshmen QBs last year, all of whom redshirted.
At least for the present time, Nolan will have the opportunity to play both football and basketball. It’s certainly the toughest double in college sports. Football usually doesn’t end until sometime in November, and that’s if the school doesn’t get into the playoffs. Basketball conditioning starts in September, and official practice starts in mid-October.
“The football coach told me that since I’m redshirting he would give me time to work out/try out for basketball,” Nolan said.
Nolan indicated that William Penn has both a varsity and JV basketball squad. The varsity squad compiled a 34-2 record last season and finished No. 2 in the nation. Nolan, a point guard, averaged about 15 points a game for the Senators this past winter.
“He will be given a chance to play varsity like all of our freshmen,” Henry said. “It’s very difficult to play varsity as a freshman here. I like Matt a lot. He can score and has a passion for winning.”
Carlos Mendeguia, Carson’s basketball coach, said that Nolan brings some good skills to the college game.
“Athletically, he’s quick and skilled with the ball,” Mendeguia said. “He has to get stronger, and that will come with age. It is a tough double, and that’s why you don’t see many college kids doing it. He has the physical ability to do it. A lot will depend on the demands of the coaches. Programs are year-round in many cases.
“I think this is a good fit for him. It looks like he’ll have an opportunity to play pretty quickly (in football) and they are giving him a chance to play basketball, too.”