This is a friendly reminder that this countdown is a list of most important players, not the best player. K.D. Nixon, #14 on our countdown, is surely one of the ten best players on the team, but he’s better than he is important, and not at all in a bad way. The reason why is because although he’s a stud receiver, he’s playing in a loaded receiving corps that includes a college football megastar and plenty of depth behind him. He’s a better player than Arlington Hambright — who is next on this countdown — but Hambright plays a crucial position without much depth behind him.
Anyway, on to K.D. Nixon.
It years like two weeks ago that he committed to the Colorado Buffaloes — time flies more and more everyday — but it’s easy to forget that he was the more highly recruited receiver between him and Laviska Shenault, Jr., his teammate at DeSoto. Nixon doesn’t possess Viska’s physical gifts. Instead, he’s close to his best friend’s opposite. He’s 5’7 on a good day, maybe 185 lbs. on Thanksgiving evening, and he’s a jitterbug rather than a deity.
For someone his stature, Nixon is a superb deep threat. People as short as him are supposed to be slot receivers whose quickness in space plays best near the line of scrimmage. But Nixon isn’t D.D. Goodson. He’s the rare little guy who’s best at tracking deep passes, positioning himself between the sideline and his defender, and somehow reel in contested catches. He can do the slot stuff too — and he’s fantastic at it — but his all-around game is what makes him a star. Like, what is this?
Like Shenault, Nixon was wasted in his freshman as the coaching inexplicably stuck with the 2017 senior core. Also like Shenault, he exploded in his first start as he had 116 yards and a score against Colorado State. His stats fluctuated quite a bit during the season, but his downs coincided with injury and poor offensive play. I would reference Nixon’s 13 catches for 198 yards and 2 TDs against Oregon State, but that game didn’t actually happen and so that doesn’t count.
The Buffs are planning on having a more balanced offense, so it’s unlikely the Buffs pass as often as they did when Darrin Chiaverini was running a Texas Tech-lite offense. But Nixon should be a feature of the offense. Health permitting, Shenault will be there to demand the entire attention of the opposing defense, so Nixon should be free to attack the defense’s soft spots. Improvement permitting, it would be a boon as well for Steven Montez to break from his Viska-centered tunnel vision.
Nixon doesn’t quite play a pivotal role at a crucial position, but that’s not to say he won’t be depended on in 2019. He already broke out last season, but this year could see him emerge as a second star in the receiving corps.
Most Important Buffaloes:
20. Tony Brown, WR
19. Jalen Harris, TE
17. Mark Perry, S
14. K.D. Nixon, WR