By Russell Vannozzi for The Robertson County Connection
CINCINNATI – Andrew Nixon was ready to hang up his football cleats for the final time.
After starring at quarterback for White House, Nixon was done with the spotlight and thought he wanted to attend college as a regular student.
“I just decided I was tired of being known as the football guy,” he said. “Living in a small town, that’s all everyone wants to talk about. Not many people would take time to actually get to know me.”
No more early-morning workouts, no more hard hits and no more playbook studying. Instead, Nixon was going to room with a friend and get a business degree at UT-Chattanooga.
“I was fine with getting on with my life and letting reality set in,” he said.
But when springtime rolled around, Nixon didn’t feel right. He watched his former White House teammates return to practice and realized how much he missed the game.
“I was like, ‘Dang, now it’s really over.’ It didn’t really set in until everyone else went back to practice and I didn’t,” he said.
“There were two weeks of school left and I was like, ‘I gotta play.’ The love of the game took over.”
Nixon, who passed for 3,671 yards and 38 touchdowns in his three seasons as a starter, quickly rounded up his recruiting contacts to see if any programs were still interested. Most had filled their scholarship spots and didn’t respond to the emails generated by his Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) account, but several schools still had openings.
That group included his two finalists – Cincinnati Christian University and Millikin University. Initially, Nixon was dead set on Millikin, a Division-III school in Decatur, Illinois. But a miscommunication regarding his financial aid package caused him to pull another audible.
There was just one problem: Nixon had already told CCU coach Trevor Zeiders that his mind was made up and that he wasn’t interested in visiting the Eagles’ campus. Fortunately for Nixon, the CCU staff showed no hard feelings.
“CCU was very forgiving [after the miscommunication],” Nixon said. “I was like, ‘Hey Coach, is that visit still open?’”
Once Nixon visited CCU, he realized the NAIA school made sense financially and geographically. He announced his commitment June 19 and plans to hold a signing ceremony at White House in the next few weeks.
“My thing was I didn’t want to have to pay to play football,” he said. “I was going to have to go into debt to play at Millikin. Everything is covered at CCU.”
Nixon’s hectic recruiting process mirrored the highs and lows he experienced as the Blue Devils’ signal caller. He was thrust into the starting role as a sophomore in 2016 and went 0-10.
“I was only 15 and we were playing against some men,” Nixon said. “They basically threw me in the fire. It was a move by coach [Ryan] Hamilton to get me some experience.”
That experience paid dividends in 2017. Led by Nixon, the Blue Devils made an unprecedented turnaround to go 10-0 in the regular season and advance to the second round of the 4A state playoffs.
“I took a lot of complaints for going 0-10, but I didn’t bat an eye and went to work,” he said. “We came back the next season with a chip on our shoulders. I want to be known as that guy that didn’t run away from adversity.”
He guided the Blue Devils to six more wins in 2018 and finished his career as the No. 3 passer in White House history after three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Now, Nixon will take those lessons learned and compete for a spot on the CCU depth chart. He is spending the summer getting back in football shape and working out with former White House teammates.
“It’s going to be a different speed in college,” he said. “[But] it’s great to still have the brotherhood with my high school team. Those people have gotten me this far, and those are the people that are going to help me prepare for the next level.”