Roosevelt Nix Named MAC Defensive Player of the Year
KENT, Ohio — Move over Jack Lambert, you've got company.
For 38 years, the NFL Hall of Famer and former Golden Flashes linebacker was the only Kent State player to garner Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Mid-American Conference, doing so in the team's 1972 championship season. That changed Wednesday (Dec. 1), when true freshman Roosevelt Nix was named the 2010 MAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Nix becomes the first freshman to claim the award in the 45 years since its inception.
The Reynoldsburg, Ohio, native led the conference in tackles for loss (20.0) and sacks (10.0), ranking tied for fifth and 13th, respectively, in the country. He also tied for ninth in the nation with four forced fumbles as part of a defense that stood third in the country in tackles for loss, seventh in rushing defense, 11th in sacks and 12th in total defense. He added 43 tackles, eight quarterback hurries and a pair of blocked kicks in his inaugural campaign.
"Roosevelt was a game-changer who was constantly able to make big plays in crucial situations," said Kent State defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis. "He has a tremendous ability to get off the ball quickly, a great motor and has a knack for getting to the ball even when he's double-teamed. He was born to play defensive line. For him to win this honor as a freshman speaks volumes to how respected he is by the other teams in the conference."
Nix was also named MAC Freshman of the Year and was joined on the All-MAC first team by senior middle linebacker Cobrani Mixon (Cincinnati, Ohio) and junior punter Matt Rinehart (Dover, Ohio), who were both first-team selections in 2009.
Mixon finished third on the team with 82 tackles despite missing a game due to injury. He also ranked fifth in the MAC with 6.5 sacks and ninth with 11.5 TFL, while recording two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Rinehart led the conference with a school-record 42.7 yard punting average. Of his 67 punts, 24 were downed inside the 20-yard line and 14 went for 50 yards or longer.
Sophomore wide receiver Tyshon Goode (Syracuse, N.Y.) and senior free safety Brian Lainhart (Cincinnati, Ohio) were second-team picks. Lainhart was a first team honoree in 2009 and a second-team selection the year before.
Goode led the team in receptions (59), yards (743) and receiving touchdowns (5), becoming the first player in the history of the program to record back-to-back 50 catch seasons to start a career. He ranked seventh in the MAC in both receptions per game (4.9) and receiving yards per game (61.9). Lainhart was second on the team with 88 stops and a pair of interceptions. He finished his standout career as the active leader in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 17 interceptions.
Senior outside linebacker Dorian Wood (Austell, Ga.) was joined by a trio of players from the offensive side of the ball in junior center Chris Anzevino (Warren, Ohio), junior wide receiver Sam Kirkland (Chesapeake, Va.) and sophomore tackle Brian Winters (Hudson, Ohio).
Wood had a breakout year, leading the team with 92 tackles (11th in the MAC) while tying for second with 11.5 TFL. Kirkland emerged as a threat on the offensive side of the ball, ranking second on the squad with 53 catches for 599 yards — both of which were career-highs.
Rounding out the contingent of Flashes were Anzevino and Winters, who each started all 12 games on the offensive line.
The nine total all-conference selections were the most since the 1987 squad garnered 10 nods.
Kent State closed out the season last Friday (Nov. 26) with a 28-6 victory over Ohio to finish 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the MAC in Doug Martin's final season at the helm of the Golden Flashes.