Immediate Impact; Kent State's Roosevelt Nix is Making His Presence Felt
By Mike Perry, SportsTime Ohio
About a year ago Kent freshman defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix
was playing out the string on his two-win Reynoldsburg High School
season. Though his team was foundering, Nix was getting plenty of
attention as one of the top defensive linemen in Ohio, scoring
invites to the two main high school senior showcase all-star
games…the North-South game and the Ohio-Pennsylvania Big 33
game in Hershey, Pa.
After his senior season he was named second-team All-Ohio for
the second consecutive season and earned Ohio Capital Conference
Player of the Year honors.
Nix, at 5-foot-10, 237 pounds is not the prototypical size for a
big-time college defensive lineman. You will not find many sub-six
footers on defensive lines in the Big Ten or SEC. Though a very
strong student with plenty of talent, Rivals.com reported Nix
received some form of athletic scholarship offer from four schools;
Air Force, Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Kent. In November of
his senior year in high school, Nix decided to continue his playing
career with the Golden Flashes.
And, trust me, Kent head coach Doug Martin is thrilled he
“Early on he was one of the players we identified that we
wanted,” Martin said. “We loved his passion and
ability. I think some schools might have backed off because of his
height. But we wanted him. I think we were the first ones to give
him an offer and he took it. We’re happy he’s
“I had mostly MAC offers and I committed to Kent fairly
early,” Nix said. “The coaches did a really good job of
getting me to want to come to Kent. They showed me how close the
players are and it’s exactly like they said. It’s a
As a true freshman Nix is anchoring the defensive line on the
top-ranked rushing defense in the nation. He leads the Mid-American
Conference in three individual defensive categories – sacks
(8.5), tackles for a loss (14.5) and forced fumbles (4) – and
also is in the top ten in the nation in these categories, including
being one of six in the country that lead the nation with four
Kent State was supposed to have a strong defense this season, as
most of the local and national media pointed to the defensive side
of the ball as the reason the Golden Flashes could make some noise
in the MAC East race. But no one expected a true freshman like Nix
to be as dominant as he has been this season. In fact, his early
success has even surprised Nix himself.
“It’s a little surprising that things have happened
this quickly, but I’m just going with it,” he said.
“Even though I didn’t expect all this to happen, it
has. And now I have to keep working hard to get better.”
Kent head coach Doug Martin has also been pleasantly surprised
with what Nix has been able to bring to the table this season.
“We thought he would be able to help us early in his
career, but did not expect him to come in and make the impact he
has made,” Martin said.
Martin and his coaching staff did have some advance billing on
what kind of a player Nix was. After the Big 33 All-Star Game,
coaches from both teams called Martin to rave about his new
“They called and told me he was one of the best players on
the field, that they were really impressed with him,” Martin
remembers. “They told me they thought he was a special
After graduating from high school Nix headed to the Kent State
campus early. He was able to participate in the entire summer
program at Kent, as well as get to know his teammates and, most
importantly, learn from his teammates what was expected of him.
“There were a lot of good role models for him when he got
here, and he got here early,” Martin said. “He was able
to spend the summer getting acclimated to how we do things, our
expectations and work ethic.”
Martin expected his defense to be strong, and with good reason.
He was bringing back plenty of talented players with loads of
experience, players like Brian Lainhart, Cobrani Mixon and Quinton
Rainey who all were standouts last season. However, this season
there is something different about his defensive squad. Again, Kent
leads the nation in rushing defense, giving up just 65.8 rushing
yards per game. Kent sits eighth in the country in total defense,
giving up 278 total yards per contest.
“We have a special group of players on defense, and our
coaches have done a great job of working with the players and
developing talent,” Martin said. “We’ve had a
fairly consistent defense for a few years, but this year the
defense has worked hard and really prides itself on being one of
the best defenses in the conference.”
This, according to Nix, is the result of the older players
setting strong examples and lifting the younger players up with
them both on and off the field.
“Our defense is like a big family,” Nix explained.
“We all understand each other’s assignments and we all
work together to help each other on the field. We all play for each
other…really lay it on the line for each other…and
the older guys have taught me a lot, both on and off the field.
They’ve shown me what is expected of us as players and how to
avoid bad situations. They’ve really helped to guide me and
the other young players.”
As for Nix’ future, Martin is looking forward to seeing
how much his young player can develop.
“He’s only scratched the surface. Right now
he’s doing things on raw physical talent and emotion,”
Martin said. “He still has things to learn about offensive
schemes and recognition. But, again, he has only scratched the
surface as to how good he can be.”
Nix, Martin and the Golden Flashes host Temple at Dix Stadium this weekend with the chance to pull even with the Owls in the standings. Temple sits at 4-1 in MAC play, tied with Miami and Ohio atop the MAC East. Kent is a game behind with a 3-2 MAC record.