An inside look at how Daviyon Nixon stuck with Iowa, despite his Alabama offer
CEDAR FALLS, Ia. — Iowa Western Community College sends prospect lists to every school in the country. They’re meant to spur recruiting, featuring the names and stats of all the Reivers’ potential NCAA players.
Daviyon Nixon never appeared on any of those lists.
There was no need, IWCC head coach Scott Strohmeier said. Nixon was an Iowa pledge before ever playing a junior college game.
Imagine Strohmeier’s surprise, then, when he saw the Oct. 25 tweet that sent Hawkeye nation into a frenzy: Alabama had offered Nixon out of the blue.
"I’m thinking to myself, 'It could blow up,'" he remembered. "Because that’s the way recruiting works. You think a lot of people evaluate based on, 'Is this the right fit?' But a lot of them recruit on, 'Who offered who?'
"I immediately called Iowa. They were obviously aware of it, and they didn't act concerned. But I’m sure there was some, 'Oh my gosh, what’s going on?' The biggest thing for me, that I wanted them to know was, a) We weren’t shopping him around, and b) This one came from nowhere."
It certainly did — and not because Nixon, a former three-star 2017 prospect out of Wisconsin, isn’t talented. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle racked up 44 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss with arguably the country’s best juco program this year.
But he had zero contact with the Crimson Tide before their defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar, followed him on Twitter. Strohmeier said he had no contact with the school, either.
Like Strohmeier, Nixon immediately called Iowa when he received the offer — twice. No one picked up the first time.
"I had to let them know before I posted it on social media," Nixon said Sunday after celebrating IWCC’s win in The Graphic Edge Bowl at the UNI-Dome. "I was like, 'I just got an offer from 'Bama. I just wanted to let you guys know that before I did anything else.'"
Strohmeier said his assistant coaches received plenty of other inquiries from schools after Alabama offered. Nixon said Michigan State and Nebraska were somewhat in the mix, but "nothing major."
Nixon was understandably excited at the time. He told HawkCentral that his head and heart were in different places: His heart was with Iowa, and his head was certainly thinking about Alabama.
"It was a lot of walking around campus, like, 'There go 'Bama! There go 'Bama!'" Nixon said. "I’m, like, 'C'mon, guys; let me live a little bit.' But it was nice; it was nice. It was fun to get the excitement and everything."
Nixon's pledge to Iowa was tested — but he remained steadfast. The initial thrill of an offer from Nick Saban’s juggernaut eventually faded. Two truths to his situation set in:
- He was still beholden to his national letter of intent with Iowa. If he wanted to play for another school, he’d have to wait until the next academic year and not transfer in January, like he planned to for the Hawkeyes.
- Loyalty matters, and Iowa stuck with Nixon throughout his academic issues, his appeal and his year with IWCC.
"I really tried to stress to him: 'You liked Iowa. You committed to Iowa. What changes just because of four months or five months?'" Strohmeier said. "'Don’t get caught up in the recruiting stuff. The University of Alabama is an unbelievable program, but they’re going to recruit every five-star defensive tackle they can in the country. And they might get every one of them. (Iowa) has vested interest in you, and they’ve recruited you since high school and signed you.'
"I think he got caught up a little bit in the hoopla of recruiting. All kids do. But when he really sat down and thought about it, he knows where his best opportunity — his best fit — is going to be."
Nixon echoed his coach’s sentiment Sunday at the UNI-Dome, saying his Hawkeye future was never seriously in doubt. He reaffirmed he was fully committed to Iowa when Reese Morgan came to IWCC to visit him last week.
"Everyone was, like, 'You'll go to the NFL if you go to 'Bama!' But regardless of what school I go to, I'm going to do my best," Nixon said. "It's not the name of the school that makes you better; it's your name that makes you better. So, me pushing myself — no matter what school I go to — I’m going to be great.
"Basically, right now, I’m just happy. I’m very excited. I just can’t wait to get (to Iowa) and start my new journey."
Nixon is set to transfer in January. He’ll officially "commit" to Iowa again during a ceremony with his teammates at IWCC on Dec. 13. He said he doesn’t know for certain if he has to sign another NLI, but he might just have a signing ceremony anyway.
"For dramatic purposes," he quipped.
That would certainly fit the theme of Nixon’s recruitment this past month.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.