• Stats: Caught 43 passes for 1,065 yards (24.7-yard average) and 13 touchdowns as a junior; 30 receptions for 636 yards (21.2) and six touchdowns as a sophomore. Also has rushed for more than 350 yards and four scores the last two years combined.
• Assets: A bouncy, nimble, agile athlete with the body language that says he’s going to beat you and he’s going to have fun doing it. Plays an “optimistic” game with a positive skip in his step and a high rate of steps per second. Plays as if he believes he’s going to win the one-on-on battle every time.
A deep-ball threat. Outstanding, pull-away speed (10.72 in 100 meters) to race by the fastest of defensive backs. Blessed with the agility to make spinning, twisting, turning grabs with high-point skills. Effortless “foot-in-the-ground” skill set. His feet are so quick and his change of direction so subtle that you have to look closely to see that he has indeed made a jab step and has altered his course.
Great hands, which is tied to the confidence that he is going to make a play. Can make a twisting grab up high, land on his feet, and get back into full stride. With that subtle jab step, he eludes defenders with seemingly little effort. Exudes big-play characteristics. Once he’s by a defensive back, the defensive back is not going to catch up.
• Room for improvement: Very light in the britches and – by his own admission – not very strong. If he were positioned in the slot, could he take the pounding from the underneath coverage? If he is split wide and runs a crossing route, can he handle the punishment of a converging safety? That’s the typical question for someone who simply isn’t that big. By the same token, he’s not skinny; he’s slightly built, but he’s ripped.
• Top offers: Notre Dame. ACC: Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest. Big Ten: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin; SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M; Big 12: Kansas, Texas, TCU, West Virginia; Pac 12: Arizona, Cal, Stanford; Other: South Florida, Central Florida.
• Early line: Nixon has been working the circuit this spring with trips to the SEC’s Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi after attending games during the 2014 season at Duke, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State. At the present time, he’s talking about narrowing his list down to 10 and making a decision before the start of his senior season at Viera High School.
Nixon has complimented Florida head coach Jim McElwain – referring to him as Coach Mac – and told Chad Simmons of Scout regarding his trip to Athens: “Georgia has opened my eyes.” Nixon has said positive things every step of the way with each stop, and has given no definitive indication of strongly favoring one school over another.
Nixon has not visited South Bend, but Notre Dame is confident that he’s an excellent fit and eventually will make the trek north.
• ND’s 2016 wide receiver recruiting: As usual, the list of wide receiver offers is extensive with the Master List arrow pointing up on Javon McKinley, Donnie Corley (Detroit, Mich.), Joshua Hammond (Hallandale, Fla.) and Nixon.
Notre Dame is not expected to win the battle for Austin Mack (Fort Wayne, Ind.), who should choose Ohio State in June, nor Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, N.J.), who favors Rutgers and Ohio State.
• ND’s 2016 wide receiver depth chart: By 2016, Will Fuller either will be in his last year, or an early departure for the NFL after ’15. Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle will be gone, and Corey Robinson and C.J. Prosise likely will be in his fourth and final years in the program. Torii Hunter, Jr. will have two years of eligibility remaining. Justin Brent and Corey Holmes will be juniors with two years of eligibility; sophomores Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin and Jalen Guyton will have three or four years left.
• Summary: I love watching athletes who capture your attention from the first clip and clearly state that he a) really enjoys playing the game and b) believes he’s going to tear the opposition apart.
Simply put, the kid carries himself like a winner. Not cocky or arrogant, but with a great bounce on the football field. As we’ve said in the past about the body language of certain players, he participates in the game of football as if he’s optimistic that he is going to create good things and a positive scenario for himself and his team.
This is a big-play performer, as evidenced by his 24.7-yard average per catch as a junior. He has the great knack for leaving the ground, making the catch at its highest point (or the highest point he can reach), and then getting back into full stride quickly after he returns to earth.
If you give Nixon a chance to make a catch and he stays on his feet, you better react quickly as a defender because your window of opportunity to eliminate yards after the catch is going to close very quickly. When he gets in full stride, it’s a beautiful long stride, and if you’re a defensive back that’s he’s already gone past, you can forget about it. You aren’t going to catch him.
On one hand, it would be premature to say Notre Dame has the edge for Nixon. He’s never been to campus and he’s been to a bunch of others. On the other hand, there have been strong indications from Notre Dame’s camp – with running backs coach Autry Denson leading the charge -- that Nixon ultimately will make the trek to South Bend and that Notre Dame will prove to be a good fit.
With a personality like Nixon’s, there are a lot of schools that feel Nixon is a great fit for them. That optimistic gait and bounce in his step – not to mention the ever-present smile he displays in interviews/video/pictures – tells you a lot about this kid. Mainly, it says he loves to compete and he’s confident that he’s going to do it at a high level.
It’s no wonder that his offer sheet is so vast and so spread out throughout the country. He has the skills – and the aura -- of a game-breaking winner.