Flashes Nix’ makes history with postseason honor

Nick Shook

Senior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix capped his career at Kent State with another memorable season, both on the field and in the statistics.

Nix officially made history Wednesday by becoming the first player in the program’s history and fifth in the storied past of the Mid-American Conference to earn first-team all-conference honors in four straight seasons. Nix recorded 13 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 6 quarterback hurries in 2013.

The 5-foot-11, 260-pound lineman from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, broke down the doors of the conference in 2010 when he earned Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. His instant notoriety proved to be lasting in 2013, earning first-team recognition in a season in which he consistently played through various injuries, including nagging back issues that forced him to miss more than a few plays.

Despite his health issues, he managed to force two fumbles, make 41 tackles, block a kick and use his hands to break up five passes, and his presence was often acknowledged by opposing coaches, most notably Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien. The Nittany Lions’ coach made a point to commend Nix’s play when speaking to Flashes Coach Paul Haynes before their Sept. 21 contest at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa. O’Brien also made sure to tell Nix how highly he thought of him after the Nittany Lions came away with a 34-0 victory.

“(Nix) was the only guy (O’Brien) talked about,” Haynes said during a Sept. 23 press conference. “He said ‘that No. 5 is a special player,’ which I thought was something special from an opposing coach, to tell you about a defensive lineman who is an impact player for you.”

Nix joins Buffalo defensive back Davonte Shannon (2007-2010), Toledo defensive back Barry Church (2006-2009), Ohio punter Dave Zastudil (1998-2001) and Bowling Green quarterback Brian McClure (1982-1985) as the fifth player in MAC history to earn first-team honors in four straight seasons.

Also joining Nix in earning postseason conference awards are second-team members senior defensive back Darius Polk and sophomore punter/kicker Anthony Melchiori and third-team members senior wide receiver Dri Archer and senior safety Luke Wollet.

Wollet, a graduate of Poland Seminary High School in suburban Youngstown, Ohio, saw playing time as a starter late in his freshman season of 2010. The senior safety was an anchor in the Flashes’ defensive backfield for the next three seasons, leading the Flashes with 78 tackles and adding two interceptions in 2013. Wollet became Kent State’s third three-time All-MAC selection since 1999, joining Nix and former Flashes safety Brian Lainhart.

“Luke’s one of those throwback, grind-it-out type players,” Haynes said in a statement released Wednesday. “He got hurt in the LSU game and played though it all year. He never missed a game and never missed a practice.” 

Archer earned all-conference honors at two different positions for the second straight season, being named to the third team at both wide receiver and kickoff-return specialist.

Archer was named to the All-MAC first team at both kick returner and running back in 2012, marking his rare accomplishment as a conference accolade winner at three different positions during his career at Kent State.

“Dri can do a lot of different things,” Haynes said in the press release.  “And it’s going to be fun to watch him in the future wherever he ends up.  Everyone knew he had a chance to go the distance every time he touched the ball, and he’s done it at three different positions.”

2013 was the fourth consecutive year in which the Flashes had at least five players selected to All-MAC teams by the conference’s coaches.