First in the conference in rushing yards. First in the conference in all-purpose yards. First in the conference in total touchdowns and scoring. The offensive anchor of one of the conference's co-champions. It's really no surprise that Avila junior running back Malik Nesbitt was named the 2020 KCAC Football Offensive Player of the Year, as announced by the conference this month.
A three-time KCAC Player of the Week, Nesbitt put together one of the best seasons by any Avila football player ever regardless of position in the best season in Avila football history. Nesbitt finished the 2020-21 regular season with 1156 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, both the most an Eagle has had since Kelwin Burke Jr. went for over 1,300 yards with 17 scores in 2013 – though he played two more games to get there. Factor in Nesbitt's 261 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air, and you've got a guy who averages 157.4 all-purpose yards with 19 total scores despite never returning a kick – both of those marks are single-season program records.
An incredibly reliable offensive force in his first season as the full-time bellcow ball carrier, Nesbitt went over 100 yards on the ground in seven of his nine games, went over 100 all-purpose yards in eight, and went over 200 all-purpose yards twice, including his famous season finale against Sterling where he dominated the Warriors to the tune of 250 rushing yards, an average of 11.4 yards per carry.
Armed with a consistent nose for the end zone as well, Nesbit crossed the goal line at least once in eight of his nine game, and scored three of more times in four games, including, once again, that legendary performance against Sterling where he found paydirt five times – a program record.
A legitimate contender for KCAC Player of the Year for the conference co-champion Eagles, Nesbitt's name appears at or near the top of the league's leaderboards in just about every metric that matters. He led the league in both rushing yards and rushing yards per game (128.4); led the league in all-purpose yards and all-purpose yards per game (157.4) even though everyone else in the top ten in average returned at least one kick or punt; and he led the league in total touchdowns and points per game (12.7).
He also finished fifth in the conference in total offense per game, a metric that adds passing and rushing yards – in other words, the only players that outgained him this season were all quarterbacks. Remarkably, his 250 rushing yards was tied for the second-most yards any conference player had in a game this year, but he appears inside the KCAC's top 15 in stellar rushing yards – essentially a tracker of explosive rushing performances – three times, more than any other player.
Twice the NAIA's National Offensive Player of the Week – he's the only Avila football player to win that honor even once – Nesbitt finished fifth in the country in all-purpose yards and second in total rushing yards and total touchdowns, and only three players nationwide tallied more than his 250 rushing yards in one game.
The first Avila football player to win a major postseason conference award, Nesbitt was one of five Eagles named First Team All-KCAC as Avila captured its first conference championship in program history and finished the season ranked No. 19 nationally, the best in team history.