They say football is a religion in Texas. After graduating from A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Texas, David Nixon apostatized. Rather than stay in Texas to play collegiate football, he chose to play for the Brigham Young Cougars at the school sponsored by his “other” religion.
High School football in Texas is more advanced than most states in the nation. How much more? Enough to enable Nixon to play in all 12 games and start two as a true freshman. This was no easy task. Besides being the new kid on the block, Nixon had to work his way up the depth chart full of team veterans. The 2002 BYU defense did not have a single senior linebacker in the three-deep roster.
Nixon did enough in fall camp to earn playing time in the 2003 season opener against Georgia Tech. He recorded his first career tackle—a 1-yard tackle for loss—in that game. His first multiple tackle game was game four (Stanford).
Nixon improved a little each week. By mid-season, he was ready to shine. On a trip to San Diego, Nixon made seven tackles (six solo), one sack, and two tackles for loss. He also had one pass break up as the Cougars snapped a two game losing streak with a win over the San Diego State Aztecs.
In an ugly loss to Colorado State, Nixon was one of the few bright spots for the Cougars. He had a team high 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. The coaches recognized Nixon’s play and named him the linebacker of the game.
Nixon started games nine and ten (UNLV and Boise State) and had 11 tackles combined in those contests. In the final game of the season, he logged 10 tackles (1 tackle for loss) for his second double digit tackle game.
The 2003 BYU defense finished eighth in the nation in pass defense (176.2 yards per game) and 14th overall (307 total yards per game). Nixon had a key role in the Cougars finishing this high in the rankings. He was fourth on the team in tackles and third on the team in tackles for loss.
Why number 6?
Nixon was a valuable contributor on a strong defense. He made a lot of plays in the backfield (11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks). His 57 total tackles is a respectable total even for an upperclassman.
Why not higher?
No turnovers. Nixon didn’t force or recover any fumbles or intercept any passes. While 57 tackles is good, it isn’t great, especially for a linebacker.
Breakout game: San Diego State (game six)
Best game: Colorado State (game seven)
Game-by-Game Stats, 2003
Georgia Tech: 1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss (TFL)
USC: 1 tackle
New Mexico: 1 tackle
Stanford: 3 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Air Force: 3 tackles
San Diego State: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup
Colorado State: 12 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks
Wyoming: 6 tackles
UNLV: 5 tackles
Boise State: 6 tackles
Notre Dame: 2 tackles
Utah: 10 tackles, 1 TFL
Totals: 57 tackles, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 pass breakups
NOTE: Complete defensive stats were not available for every game of the 2003 season, so the totals for some categories will be greater than what the game-by-game numbers would indicate.
Top 10 BYU Freshmen
10. Cody Hoffman, 2010
9. Greg Pitts, 1991
8. Jamal Willis, 1991
7. Luke Staley, 1999
6. David Nixon, 2003
5. Mike Morgan, 1979
4. Austin Collie, 2004
3. Randy Brock, 1991
2. Ronney Jenkins, 1996
1. Harvey Unga, 2007
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org