This was no ordinary recruiting process for William Nixon.
He grew up a fan of his parents’ alma mater, Penn State. While his father, Jeff, made stops as an NFL running backs coach in Philadelphia (2007-10) and Miami (2011-15), he watched up close how stars like LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller handled their business. Dad became Baylor’s co-offensive coordinator two years ago, and the school was first to offer Nixon a scholarship last spring.
But after touring Nebraska in June, the coach’s kid and consensus three-star receiver couldn’t say no to the Huskers.
Nixon committed to the coaching staff Friday and made his decision public on social media Monday afternoon. The versatile 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete at Waco (Texas) Midway High School becomes the eighth pledge in NU’s 2020 class and fifth in the past two weeks.
“It has been a tough process deciding,” Nixon told The World-Herald. “I have met so many great staffs and people at other schools that I visited. But in the end I feel like I will succeed best at Nebraska both on and off the field.”
Nixon, who is on vacation with his family in Mexico, officially visited Georgia Tech, Purdue and Notre Dame last month. He made unofficials to other finalists Penn State and Baylor.
But only Nebraska and Purdue pitched Nixon as playing in a dual receiver/running back role. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters, running backs coach Ryan Held and head coach Scott Frost all told him that he has the traits to play the “Duck-R” — the hybrid position most notably filled by Maurice Washington last year.
Nixon carried the ball 25 times for 400 yards and five touchdowns at Midway last fall while making 40 catches for 500 yards and five scores. He said he will be a bigger factor in the running game as a senior.
Jeff Nixon told The World-Herald that he considers his son’s top strengths to be crisp route running and “exceptional” hands that make tough grabs look easy. And while there was a “weird” dynamic to recruiting his own son, he and Baylor coach Matt Rhule agreed from the beginning not to pressure him no matter how much they liked him in their system. This would be William’s decision.
“I kind of had an idea early on that he might want to get out of the shadow of playing on the same team and side of the ball that his dad coaches on,” Jeff Nixon said. “There would be positives, but definitely some negatives for William to play wide receiver at Baylor.
“... In the end, William wants to go off and make a name for himself.”
Nixon, who is eyeing a major in engineering or business, said academics were an emphasis in his decision. So was the “down-to-earth and genuine” nature of the coaching staff, which kept the entire Nixon family in the loop during the process since NU offered him in March. And, coaches added, he can be a “big part” in helping restore Nebraska’s championship tradition.
Also a talented outfielder, Nixon said he has Frost’s blessing to try out for and play on the Husker baseball team as well. He won’t enroll early at NU so he can play on his high school team again next spring.
But on Monday, Nixon just wanted to finish his vacation by celebrating finding his new football home.
“Tough not going to Baylor,” Nixon said. “But I really like the way I can pave my own way.”