Offensive coordinators have game-planned around Roosevelt Nix since he stepped onto the football field in 2010. That's because he is a game-changing defensive linemen apart of a group that his teammates deem as one of the best units in college football.
"I think we have the best D-line in the country." Kent State defensive back Darius Polk told me when I interviewed him for his article on this countdown.
"Roosie", as his teammates call him, is the star of that line. In his freshman year he won MAC defensive player of the year. He says that it was fantastic feeling winning it once, but he aims to win it again this season.
"I still think about [the honor of winning the award] to this day. The fact that I haven't got it for the last few years is definitely something that is on my shoulder a little bit." Nix continued, "I am going to do everything in my power to get it back."
His senior year will be a continuation of a journey that started long before he surprised many by committing to Kent State. Nix recalls learning football from his father.
"When I first started playing, I remember my dad teaching me the swim move...He played baseball; looking back at it was kind of weird." Nix said.
Nix's father watched him play many sports growing up. Though his dad was a baseball player, Nix only played it for a year. He has played football since the age of four, but he also played basketball. Nix was always an athletic person.
"I played all sports growing up, but football was the sport that I was best at." Nix said.
If he was any better at basketball than football we would have a Kobe on our hands.
Nix finished last year's football season atop three statistical categories. He finished tenth in sacks per game, but his five were tied for fifth most in the conference. He had three force fumbles and finished third in tackles for loss.
Nix is not shy to list some of the best defensive linemen as players that he aims to replicate. He says that he has watched tape of Dwight Freeny and J.J. Watt, two players that have transformed the NFL in their own way. Much like Nix has done to the MAC.
When he is not on the field, Nix says that he enjoys going to other sporting events around campus. He lists basketball games — specifically the Akron-Kent game — a must.
The accolades continue to pile up for Nix, including our countdown. However, being just the fourth best returning player may have put another chip on his shoulder. He wants to be number one.
"Of course you want to be number one, but it's an honor." Nix said.