Inside Look with David Nixon

Hampered by a nagging groin injury he suffered at the beginning of last year, outside linebacker David Nixon fought his way through it practice after practice and game after game. As the Cougars begin spring camp, Nixon is hoping to be able to shake this injury and join his defensive teammates soon.

"Earlier in the season against Arizona I pulled my groin and from there on out in every game I've played with it," Nixon said. "Coaches didn't want me to sit out any games and I didn't want to sit out any games, so it just progressively got worse and worse until when the season finally got over it was pretty messed up."

Currently, Nixon isn't participating in spring drills. As Nixon continues to rehab, 6-foot-1-inch, 248 pound outside linebacker Chris Bolden has been playing with the first team defense in his absence.

"Right now we're just rehabbing it and trying to get it back to playing level," said Nixon. "It's getting better and better each day and I'm seeing some specialists and doctors that have been looking at it. We'll definitely have it ready by the start of the season and hopefully by the end of spring practice. If it's not looking too good that will be the case but I'm just trying to be optimistic about it and we'll see what happens."

Despite not participating in spring drills, Nixon was suited up in the required practice gear and out on the field Tuesday watching and supporting his teammates. However, most of his time is spent up at "muscle beach," working to stay in shape. Muscle beach is the nickname for the strength and conditioning sessions that injured players must go through with Coach Jay Omer.

"We're up there mostly at muscle beach and I've been doing the stair climber, riding the bike and all that stuff," Nixon said. "It pretty tough and it's not easy by any means, but it's keeping me in shape and I'm able to do things where I don't hurt the groin."

This Thursday Nixon will see the doctor to get an update on his condition.

"I've got a doctors appointment this Thursday," said Nixon. "I'm hoping it goes well because I want to get it going here really soon, so I'm hoping we find out on Thursday that things are improving to where I'm getting closer to being out there on the field."

Not being out there on the field participating in the drills with his teammates is tough for Nixon.

"Oh man, this is tough for me because this is the fun part about football," Nixon said. "This is the best part because you can come out here and play and not have to worry about your legs being fresh. You just go out there and play so it's tough not being out there. In watching the guys play you can tell their getting better."

The first couple of days the players go through their drills and scrimmages while trying to shake the rust of the legs. However, Coach Mendenhall has told his team that he feels they are further along than last year's undefeated Mountain West Conference championship team that also beat Oregon 38-8 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"The first couple of days are kind of tough because you're trying to get all the cobwebs out and get your legs back underneath you and get back that football mentality. At first they looked a little bit shaky but Coach Mendenhall said that we are further along than last year's team, so that's looking really good for us knowing what we did last year."

Being further along in their progression at this point in time than last year's defense was at the same point is a phrase that has been echoed by a few players on the field. This bodes well for Coach Mendenhall and his program, as the players rise to the challenge to build upon last year's success.

"I think this team is doing great," Nixon said boldly. "There are a lot of great athletes out there and they all have great potential. Right now everyone is competing because it's their time to shine, and even for the guys who started or played on this team last year like Kehl and I, this is our time to improve. This is what spring ball is all about. For guys who've played last year it's their time to improve and for guys who were maybe on the bubble it's their time to show they deserve a chance or should play. Right now is the time for guys to show what they've got for the coaches and step up to play a larger role in developing this team's capability.

"Kelly Poppinga is holding it down in place of Cameron Jensen and Sean Doman is a quick guy that's been playing a lot in the middle. We've got some new guys in the linebacker group taking on new roles now. Jadon Wagner, who is big just like his brother [Aaron Wagner], is doing really well out there."

Wagner has been playing the outside linebacker's position at 6 feet 5 inches and 235 pounds.

"He had two sacks during the scrimmages and is getting better and better as he feels more comfortable with what is going on. He just got off his mission a little while ago and so he's still getting his legs back as well. I think he's going to be good and just like last year, this linebackers core is going to be the strength of this team despite our losses of Jensen and Wagner. It's going to be exciting and I'm excited about our linebackers core, and even our quarterbacks on offense are looking good so both sides are looking really good."

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