Heralded recruit Daviyon Nixon will have to sit out first year for Iowa football team

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Daviyon Nixon Era at Iowa won’t start for at least another year.

The defensive tackle, who arrived on campus in January, will be an academic redshirt this season, Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz announced Tuesday. Nixon will be able to practice with his new team this year but cannot play in any games, while getting his coursework in order.

“(Nixon) has already done a good job jumping in here and transitioning,” Ferentz said. “We’re really pleased he’s with us, and is going to be a really good football player for us. I’m confident of that.”

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, pictured at December's Pinstripe Bowl, announced Tuesday that defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon will take an academic redshirt this season.

Nixon, a three-star recruit out of Wisconsin, spent last fall at Iowa Western Community College after not originally qualifying academically to join Iowa. He signed a letter of intent with the Hawkeyes, then recorded 44 tackles, including five sacks, for the Reivers.

The 6-foot-3, 306-pound Nixon made his biggest headlines of the season after getting a surprise scholarship offer from Alabama. He tweeted the news Oct. 25, sending a ripple of shock through the Hawkeye fan base.

But Nixon immediately called Iowa’s coaching staff to let them know he was still planning to honor his commitment, he told HawkCentral in December.

"I had to let them know before I posted it on social media," Nixon said then. "I was like, 'I just got an offer from 'Bama. I just wanted to let you guys know that before I did anything else.'"

Other schools also inquired about Nixon, including Michigan State and Nebraska, but he termed that “nothing major” and transferred to Iowa as planned this winter.

The newest setback, Ferentz said, was a known possibility. He praised Nixon’s attitude and desire to improve in his first two months on campus. Nixon should be eligible to play from 2019-21 for the Hawkeyes.

“It’s something we’ve been aware of all the way through the process. It’s really not a huge surprise to anybody,” Ferentz said of Nixon’s redshirt.

“The good news is he’s been on campus a couple months now. We know a lot more about him now than we did back in December. And he’s been great. He just has a great attitude. He works hard. He’s got a positive attitude, and he’s significantly talented on top of that. So it’s something that’s going to be good for him.”

The depth chart Iowa released Tuesday, a day before spring practices begin, showed juniors Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff as the starting defensive tackles. Senior Matt Nelson is dealing with an unspecified injury this spring and won’t practice with the team.

Nelson took over the starting job from Lattimore midway through last season. Iowa also needs to replace senior Nathan Bazata at defensive tackle.

Sophomore Dalles Jacobus and junior Garret Jansen are listed as the backup defensive tackles for now.

Other injuries, player moves

In addition to Nelson, Ferentz said Iowa will practice this spring without safety Brandon Snyder, defensive end Romeo McKnight, fullback Austin Kelly, linebacker Kyle Taylor and running back Toks Akinribade. All had offseason surgery or other injuries.

Akinribade’s absence leaves the Hawkeyes with three running backs: Toren Young, Ivory Kelly-Martin and Kyshaun Bryan. Iowa will manage their workload, but also will move redshirt freshman defensive back Cam Harrell to running back to help out.

“We’ll take a look at him and see what he looks like back there,” Ferentz said of Harrell.

Two other defensive players have also been switched to offense. Redshirt freshman Levi Duwa moved from defensive end to offensive line in the December preparation for the Pinstripe Bowl and remains there. Junior Jake Newborg also has shifted from the defensive line to play guard.