"He is very much like Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson," Richard Bailey, the only coach Jack Britt HS has known said. "He is a mean, athletic offensive lineman. I also look at a guy like Virginia Tech's Duane Brown. Xavier is athletic, like a converted tight end, like Brown was."
With the lofty expectations, eyes will be on him this season as he enters his senior campaign as one of the nation's elite tackles. It wasn't until a year and a half ago when he fully dedicated himself to the gridiron. A two-sport player for the Buccaneers in both football and basketball, Nixon found himself often spending summers in basketball camps and his hoops season away from the weight room. However, after some direction from Bailey, Nixon has been a player on a mission in his efforts to improve as a football player.
"Xavier is a kid that just started to commit himself to the weight room," Bailey said. "After we came off a State Championship a few years ago, I noticed this kid in practice and thought to myself, ‘this kid will be special' and before that, he was really just a basketball guy who would come and play for us. But the improvement from his sophomore season to his junior year is unbelievable. He is focused and now understands the importance of the weight room because he knows where he is headed."
Nixon has developed an offer list a mile long, none of which is surprising to Bailey.
"He is the best player I've ever coached," Bailey said. "I've put 12-13 D-1 guys out in about eight years here and he is the best prospect I have had, and that says a lot."
Bailey has coached a number of players including former Virginia Tech running back George Bell (who is currently on pace to break numerous Catawba College rushing records), Wake Forest defensive backs Brandon Ghee and Alex Frye, and North Carolina linebacker Wesley Flagg. However, what sets Nixon apart from those players, according to the 15-year head coach is his competitiveness and mean streak on the football field.
"He is a competitor," Bailey said. "He hates to lose. The minute the game is over, it is over. He is a great guy in the halls and is fun after the game, but once that coin flip happens, there is a switch. He is nasty on the field."
Bailey believes that not only will Nixon sign with a big time program as his offers will indicate, but he will play early.
"He will play early in college because of an incredible football IQ," Bailey said. "He is an honor student and I've seen book smart guys that weren't football smart and I've seen the inverse, but he is both. He is a guy that not only knows his assignments, but he knows exactly what the running backs and wide receivers are supposed to do too."
Nixon, who has a size 18 shoe, is a physical specimen, however, one that will need to continue to develop his natural strength.
"I think the biggest thing that he needs to work on is his upper body strength," Bailey said. "You have to realize that he has only been focused for the last year and a half. He just committed to the weight room. Right now, bull rushers would give him a problem at the collegiate level. He takes care of the smaller-athletic guys, however. He does need to bring up his bench. Right now he is at about 290 on the bench. He has long arms, so he'll never be a 400 pound bencher, but he needs to get bigger at the next level."
With numerous offers right now, four schools have separated themselves from the pack, according to Bailey. North Carolina State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Clemson are those teams. However, numerous other schools aren't far behind. Nixon will take a group of unofficial visits during his spring break to check out spring practices. The list includes Ohio State, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Coaches from Southern California have recently contacted Bailey about Nixon. He has also received offers from Oklahoma and Colorado as well as the three big Florida schools, Florida, Florida State and Miami.
According to Bailey, the Hurricanes have just as good of a chance as anyone to land the talented tackle.
"Miami was one of the first offer. He definitely likes Miami," Bailey said. "They have the reputation and success as well as the ability to produce kids for the NFL. Academically, Miami is a tough school to get into, despite its stigma. I think Coach Shannon is restoring that pride in the program. He is interested. If they aren't in the top five, they are right near it."
Nixon will certainly be one of the big fish in the 2009 recruiting class.