There was a brief time in December when Colorado’s KD Nixon felt he was ready to move on to the next chapter of his life.
Upon more reflection, he decided he needed one more year in Boulder.
Now in the middle of offseason training, Nixon is focused on making the most of his final year at CU – both on and off the football field.
“The fact is, I want to graduate, I want to go first round and I want to set an example for my family, so that’s the best thing for me,” Nixon said.
A 5-foot-8, 185-pound receiver, Nixon announced on Dec. 10 that he would skip his senior year at CU and enter the NFL Draft. (One week earlier, teammate and long-time friend Laviska Shenault announced his early entry to the draft). Nine days after his announcement, Nixon changed his mind.
“It was just the fact that you have to see the bigger picture always,” he said.
While Shenault is projected as a potential first-round pick in the April draft, Nixon was a borderline draft prospect. Beyond football, though, Nixon said he will become the first in his family to graduate from college.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “I’m going to walk this spring (and officially graduate in December), so it’s going to be good for my family to see that.”
From a football perspective, Nixon has a chance to finish his college career on a better note.
In 2019, Nixon finished third on the team in receptions (35), receiving yards (465) and receiving touchdowns (three). He also averaged 23.4 yards on 16 kickoff returns, rushed for 19 yards on five carries, gained 10 yards on two punt returns and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Stanley on his only career pass.
Nixon’s overall production went down from 2018, when he caught 52 passes for 636 yards and four touchdowns.
“It can challenge you,” said Nixon, who caught just 18 passes for 170 yards in the final seven games, “but you have to stay focused because when the time is right, God will make it happen. So that’s why I just stay so positive and just keep a smile on my face.
“It’s kind of gut-checking for everybody because you put the work in daily. Nobody else notices what you do, but if you’re not producing on the field, they don’t think you’re the best. Once I get the opportunities, people will realize what they’ve been missing the whole time.”
CU’s offense, in general, sputtered at times last season, its first with Jay Johnson as coordinator. During the last seven games, the Buffs averaged just 15.6 points per game.
With the ability to play in the slot and outside, in addition to running the ball and even returning kicks, Nixon is hoping to do his part to help the Buffs become more explosive.
“I’m always going to have high standards, high goals,” he said. “I’ve just got to get the opportunity. That’s the No. 1 thing I’ve had to learn in college. You can work the hardest ever; if you don’t get the opportunity, you can’t get what you want in life, so I pray I get the opportunity this year.”
A year ago, Nixon worked on becoming a better blocker and believes he showcased that ability. Now, he wants to show off his whole game.
“Now it’s to the point where I need the opportunity to show I am fast; I need the opportunity to show I can run over people; I need the opportunity to show I can be a deep threat,” he said.
One of only eight scholarship seniors on the team, and one of only two on offense, Nixon is working on becoming more flexible, but also said he catches 500 passes a day, practicing for all types of scenarios: high-pointing a ball, catching low passes, or those down the middle, etc.
“Last year it was taking care of the body,” he said. “Now, let’s do more on-the-field work. It’s a process and I think everything is going to connect.
“I’m just waiting on my turn. I can do it all. Sometimes you have to wait and I pray that this year they will utilize me more.”
Nixon currently ranks 24th in school history in receiving yards (1,118) and 25th in catches (89). With a great senior season, he could make a push for the top 10 in both categories and if all goes well, Nixon will be in a better position for his future a year from now.
“It ain’t going to get worse coming back,” he said. “It’s going to get better coming back.”