July 5, 2005

New England speedster moving up charts

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If speed could kill, New Haven (Conn.) Hyde Leadership athlete Jamie Nixon would be a wanted man. The 6-1, 177-pounder from the Northeast not only blows by the competition on the track, but he takes his talents to the football field as well. And prior to the Elite Combine in May, Nixon wasn't even a blip on many recruiting radar screens. But, oh, how things have changed.

"Recruiting has been going pretty good," Nixon said. "Better than what I had expected. I didn't expect to be recruited like I am now. I thought I would get just a couple of D-I schools and some D-II's, so it is pretty shocking."

Nixon, ranked No. 2 on the Rivals.com Preseason New England Top 20, said he has offers from Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Rutgers, as well as receiving interest from Maryland, Purdue, Syracuse, Michigan State and Penn State.

But what sparked some of the nation's elite teams' interest in Nixon? Largely because he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at the Elite Combine not once, but twice.

"Those who already knew that Nixon was fast (he's a track guy) found out he could play football as well as he showed good skill in drills and one-on-ones," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said after the combine. "Nixon can play tailback in college, but his size and speed will keep him at defensive back."

Nixon found out that Florida had verbally offered him through his coach and that was news he couldn't believe.

"I thought my coach was joking," Nixon said. "He had told me about three times, but I didn't believe him until I spoke to (Florida assistant) coach (Steve) Addazio."

The conversation between Addazio and Nixon took place nearly a month-and-a-half ago but the topics of conversation are still fresh in Nixon's mind.

"He basically evaluated me," Nixon said. "We talked about the recruiting process. He asked me how I was doing, what my interest in Florida was and what position I want to play. It was a pretty good conversation and I liked it. I think he is a cool guy. I wouldn't mind playing for him."

Nixon has yet to receive a written offer from Florida, but still groups the Gators along with the other four teams to have offered in his top five.

"I am probably going to wait a couple of more months to make a decision," he said.

As a junior, Hyde Leadership won the Class S crown in Connecticut by posting a 12-0 record. Nixon played in five games last season (missed time due to a sprained knee) and racked up 700 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

"I would say I am laid back until you push me," he said. "I make plays when I need to, but if someone takes advantage of me, I come back strong and completely embarrass them. My coaches tell me to be more aggressive and I am going to try and work on that as well."

Nixon prospered this past year in track, as he was one of four sprinters at his school to earn All-American status in the 4x200 event. He recently returned from a national track competition in North Carolina where he placed eighth in the 4x100 and 12th in the 200 meters.

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