Practice Tour: Xavier Nixon

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. --- Unsurprisingly, Jack Britt High School will rely heavily on five-star prospect Xavier Nixon, as well as NC State pledge Everett Proctor, to lead the football team this fall. However, the Buccaneers know superior play from the other 20 starters on the team is required to win a NCHSAA 4A State Championship.

"Obviously, the expectations are high when you have two major D1-type players," Britt head football coach Richard Bailey said. "But what it really takes [to win the state championship] is a bunch of great high school players. And we're blessed – we have a lot of great high school players."

In recent years, several teams sporting multiple Division I-A players fell short of winning the state championship while facing lofty expectations (i.e. '07 Matthews (N.C.) Butler, ‘06 Durham (N.C.) Hillside, '04 Durham (N.C.) Southern, and '03 Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley).

"Football is the ultimate team sport," Bailey said. "Having one or two great players is not going to make you a great team. But we are blessed with a lot of D2 guys, D3 guys in addition to ‘X' and Everett."

Regardless, Jack Britt is welcoming high expectations and even creating some of their own.

"The ultimate goal is the state championship and we're not saying that as some type of taboo word like somebody with a no-hitter – we're throwing it out there," said Bailey. "We're going to fight for it… We realize it takes a lot of luck and a lot of good fortune."

Nixon, a 6-foot-6, 285-pounder, has been the keystone to Jack Britt's offense at left tackle since the latter part of his sophomore season.

"He can do anything that we ask him to do in our offense," Bailey said. "He's very good at reach blocking, which we ask him to do when we're running on the perimeter. We tend to run to his side a lot. Or we run counters away from him in which he's the backside puller – and he's so quick and great at getting up on linebackers and safeties. Whether we're running to him or away from him, he's a key block on all of our plays. The ball tends to migrate wherever he's going."

Nixon will also see reps this season on defense at end.

"Technically, to be honest with you, he would be a starting defensive end," Bailey said. "We won't start him there, because he'll be our starting offensive tackle. He'll rest on defense."

Bailey projects Nixon to be on the field for 50-percent of the defensive plays.

Nixon, though, figures to be more to the team than just the top blocker and part-time defensive playmaker.

"I try to be a leader for this team," Nixon said. "I want to be the guy that [the team] looks to… for motivation and to get us excited and back into the game."


A couple of weeks ago, Nixon narrowed his list of 40-plus scholarship offers to nine schools – Clemson, Florida, LSU, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Within the month, that list will be reduced even further. Bailey says they're going to cut Nixon's list down to six schools within "the next four to five days," while Nixon says he'll announce his final five in three weeks.

Nixon says Florida, LSU, and Miami are safe to make the next cut.

"Then it's going to be between Notre Dame and the rest of the schools," Bailey said. "He is trying to get to the ones furthest away."

Nixon has already scheduled an official visit to Florida for September 5, and is also working on dates with Clemson, LSU, and Miami.

If UNC and/or NC State make Nixon's next cut but don't receive an official visit from, Bailey says not to read too much into that.

"Bottom line is he's been to [North] Carolina a million times, he's been to NC State a million times," Bailey said. "He would be doing himself a disservice to not go see the schools he knows least about. Fans might not like to hear that, but he knows the coaches at Carolina, he knows the coaches at NC State, he's been on their campus, he's been in their dorm rooms, and seen the academic facilities."

With all that said, Bailey believes there's a strong chance Nixon will end up taking an official visit to an in-state school.

"I think his fifth visit will go to whichever in-state school is really still in that top five," Bailey said. "That's how I see it. One of these in-state schools will get an official visit, but I don't think both will."

Since making his last cut in June, Nixon has been focused on getting to know the coaches at all nine schools.

"Right now, I'm just calling everybody and seeing where I feel most comfortable at, and what coaches I like the most," Nixon said.

Nixon says he keeps in regular contact with Sam Pittman, UNC's offensive line coach.

"[He talks about] life, and just how I'm doing, and how football practice is going," Nixon said.

Nixon plans to unofficially attend games at UNC this fall, but isn't sure which ones.

During the U.S. Army All-American Game, Nixon, who has accepted the invitation, will announce his collegiate decision.

"In a school [I'm looking to] just feel at home – like I do at Jack Britt right now," Nixon said. "… Playing time is big – I want to get in and play early."

Bailey believes on-field production this fall will dramatically increase UNC's chances.

"Carolina needs to win some games, be competitive, show big-time players across the United States that this program is going in the right direction," Bailey said.

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