Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Land of 10 Iowa writers Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse are hard at work visiting the Iowa incoming freshman class to show you more than its 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. We recently talked with 3-star DT Daviyon Nixon, but before we bring you the full profile on the Lincolnshire, Ill., star here is a sneak peek at what you can expect.
KENOSHA, Wis. — When watching Daviyon Nixon run around, Rodney Nixon just saw a clumsy, goofy little kid.
But Rodney’s mom, Audrey Nixon, saw something else entirely in her grandson.
“She always knew at an early age that he would be really, really special,” Rodney said. “I always disagreed with her.”
It turned out grandma knew best. Nixon would blossom into a 3-star defensive lineman for Indian Trail High School, eventually signing with Iowa in February.
But Daviyon wouldn’t have proven Audrey correct if it wasn’t for Rodney and the workout routine he put his son through starting in eighth grade.
“No I didn’t like it at all,” Daviyon said.
An overweight kid wouldn’t, but Rodney wasn’t going to let his out-of-shape son just jump back into football.
See, Daviyon spent his seventh-grade year in Georgia with his mom, Chwanda Frierson-Nixon. He arrived in the Peach State too late to join the football team so he lounged around, watching TV, playing games and eating.
When he came back to Wisconsin before eighth grade, he stood 5 feet 11 and 280 pounds. Daviyon’s older brother, Eddie, asked if he wanted to join his football team. The decision to play football factored in his decision to stay up north instead of heading back to Georgia with his mom.
Rodney wanted his son to put the helmet and shoulder pads on, but there was work to do, first. Daviyon starting playing football at 4, but Rodney wasn’t going let him jump back into it looking like he did.
“Dude, you can’t be this big,” Rodney said.
So he signed Daviyon and Eddie up for AAU basketball. There would be running — plenty of running — to drop weight. Rodney would take Daviyon to the track to get in extra wind sprint. Daviyon would also lift weights.
Rodney focused on basketball, even though Daviyon was playing football, because he thought his son’s future was on the hardwood. Daviyon is now 6-4 with a 7-2 wingspan.
“Those long arms and that reach,” Rodney said. “He was always stronger than everyone else on the basketball court. I thought that was going to be his sport, but I was wrong.”
Daviyon hated waking up at 5:30 a.m. for the 6 a.m. workouts, but his dad wouldn’t let him skip a session.
“I had to do it and it paid off,” Daviyon said. “At the time it wasn’t too hard, but it was. I used to be like ‘I’m not doing this’ and I would have to get up anyway.”
— DaviyonNixon (@DaviyonNixon) February 3, 2017
It took three years for the results to truly show. Daviyon ended his sophomore year standing about 6-1 and weighing 200 pounds. He would go through a major growth spurt the following summer, eventually growing three inches and tipping the scales at 284.
The size, strength and wingspan combined to turn Daviyon into a first-team all-conference defensive lineman, recording 23 solo tackles, 14 assists and 7 tackles for loss in eight games as a senior.
Daviyon would commit to Northern Illinois in July 2016. Iowa waited to extend a scholarship until Daviyon showed academic progress in the first semester of his senior year. He ended up signing with the Hawkeyes and is now on the verge of becoming a Big Ten defensive tackle.
And it may not have happened if Rodney didn’t start taking Daviyon to the track in eighth grade.
For the complete Iowa NextGen series, click this link.