Kent State's Roosevelt Nix is no stranger to awards, having earned the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in his first year on campus as a Golden Flash in 2010. Today, he was recognized natioally and named a preseason "watch list" member for two of college football's most prestigious individual awards, the Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Trophy.
The Outland Trophy, which honors the best interior lineman in the country, chose Nix as one of 70 players to watch. The Nagurski picked him as one of 84 who are early favorites to win the award for the nation's best defensive player.
In his freshman season, Nix led the Golden Flashes from his defensive tackle position, disrupting offenses all year long to the tune of twenty tackles for loss, including a team-high nine sacks. In his rookie campaign he also forced four fumbles and blocked two kicks on his way to the conferences highest defensive honor.
In 2011, Nix was not quite as dominant as he struggled through a toe injury, but still managed to make his presence known regularly on a Golden Flashes defense that ranked 21st nationally in total defense. His sophomore season saw him accumulate four and a half sacks and 39 total tackles. His 17 tackles for loss once again paced Kent State.
After only two seasons at Kent State, the 6-foot, 244 pounder from Reynoldsburg (Ohio) is sixth on the school's all-time sack list with 14.5, and his 37 tackles for loss have him ninth in that category. For Nix however, he thinks that with less focus on injuries, this year could be a special one for him.
"I don't like to blame things on injuries, but last year with the toe, there were a lot of times where I wasn't 100 percent. But I played as best as I could," Nix said in April. "I felt that as long as my presence was being felt, it didn't matter if the numbers were there. During the last couple games of the season, my numbers weren't there. But we were winning and I was fine with that. I'm not a selfish player. I don't know if it's ever going to be 100 percent, but I rest it when I can. In the end, this is like a job to me and you owe it to the guys around you to just keep pushing."
That desire to be a leader is what has caught the attention of Darrell Hazell, and Nix's coach is aware of the special talent that he is fortunate to mentor.
"He's a leader in his own quiet way," Hazell told Kent.Ohio.com after his team's spring game. "You'll hear him chirp up once in awhile, but that's not who he is. But if you watch his play, that's where you see Rosie's leadership skills."