Next up on our countdown to the start of the Hawkeye football season is a double dose of linemen, one on each side of the ball.
Daviyon Nixon- RS SO
Kenosha, Wisconsin (Indian Trail)
6’3”, 309 lbs
2019 Projection: Starting Defensive End
Matt Fagan- RS FR
Council Bluffs, Iowa (St. Albert)
6’5”, 285 lbs
2019 Projection: Reserve Offensive Guard
Let’s start with Nixon, whose journey from All-State high school football standout to potential breakout star at the collegiate level has been a long and frustrating one. Nixon originally committed to Iowa as a member of the class of a 2017 but took a detour to Iowa Western Junior College after academics prevented him from enrolling in classes that fall. Nixon made the most of his limited time at the JUCO level, finishing his freshman season with 44 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, and second team All-Conference honors.
While Nixon’s strong showing at Iowa Western drew interest from many other programs including Alabama, he followed through with his ultimate goal of being a Hawkeye and made his way to Iowa City the following year. Iowa’s coaches, with eyes on both Daviyon’s future and the team’s significant depth along the defensive line, opted to redshirt Nixon last season to allow him to focus on making a smooth academic transition to a four-year university. With the graduations of Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, and Sam Brincks, as well as the early departure of Anthony Nelson to the NFL, Nixon seemed poised to make a push for one of four vacant starting positions along Iowa’s defensive line in 2019.
Many Iowa fans were shocked when, on the cusp of finally achieving his dream of taking the field for the black and gold, Nixon entered his name into the transfer portal in January. While its unclear exactly what transpired, Nixon was fully committed to the program by the time spring practice rolled around, and is once again expected to be a major contributor to Iowa’s defense this year.
Watching his highlight film, it’s impossible not to be struck by just how quick and athletic Nixon is considering his enormous size. Also, how great a nickname is “Big Truck” for a giant, athletic defensive tackle?
Like many newcomers before him, Nixon may not begin the season in the starting lineup, but given his excellent athleticism and immense potential, few would be surprised if he managed to solidify a spot there by the end of the season.
Nixon shares #54 with Matt Fagan, a walk-on reserve offensive lineman who also redshirted last season. Fagan played his high school ball at St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs and turned down a handful of scholarship opportunities at the FCS level to pursue an opportunity to suit up for his dream school instead. Fagan doesn’t figure to be much of a factor this season considering his youth and the bevy of talent along the offensive line, but he did put on twenty pounds after a full year with Doyle and his strength and conditioning staff, and he would hardly be the first Hawkeye lineman to go from unheralded walk-on to major contributor. Don’t expect Fagan’s name to be called frequently in 2019, but given this staff’s track record of developing under-recruited talent, don’t be shocked if you hear more from him a few years down the line.