Former Davidson University quarterback Paul Nichols has returned to his alma mater to become its new head football coach.

Nichols, 31, was the director of player personnel at Illinois last season and previously coached at Toledo and Marshall. Prior to joining Illinois, he served as Toledo's co-defensive coordinator for three years.

"We're very pleased to have Paul Nichols return to Davidson as our head football coach," said athletic director Jim Murphy. "Since his days as a player, Paul's commitment and determination have led to significant success, and I have high expectations for our football program under his leadership. Paul and his family understand the Davidson culture and he's a great fit for us. It's good to see him back."

At Davidson, Nichols set school records for career passing yards (5,822), completions (465) and touchdown passes (51) and compiled a 22-6 record as a starting quarterback. As a sophomore in 2000, he led Davidson to its only undefeated season.

Nichols takes over the program from Tripp Merritt, who was fired with two games remaining in a 2-9 season.