COLUMBIA, S.C. — Keisean Nixon made the most of his opportunities during his first season with the South Carolina football team.
According to TheBigSpur’s snap count, Nixon was on the field for 83 defensive plays in 2017, during which he logged 2 interceptions and recovered a fumble. He capped the season with a start against Michigan in the Outback Bowl, where he had a season-high 4 tackles.
Nixon arrived from Arizona Western College after the start of last preseason camp. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp initially had Nixon at safety, but eventually moved him to cornerback. Muschamp later admitted fault and said Nixon should have played cornerback the whole time.
“Wouldn’t say it was a disappointing year, just got here late and had to adjust,” Nixon said. “The bowl game was big. The Clemson game was big. Just made plays when the opportunity comes.”
With three starters gone from last year’s secondary, Nixon is in line to land one of those starting spots as a senior.
“Everybody is battling. Everybody wants to play. The best guy is going to play,” Nixon said.
It’s pretty clear, based on what Muschamp told reporters after the spring game, that Nixon is one of the top options. Muschamp said Nixon is the team’s “best fit” at nickel back, but is also one of the “better guys” at cornerback.
Nixon is also expected to compete for a role in the return game.
“I feel good. I feel like I know everything now,” Nixon said. “When you know something, you can make plays, so it’s easier to make plays. It should be a big year.”
Even though Nixon is approaching his final season with the Gamecocks, he’s not shy about helping out the younger players also competing with for playing playing time. It’s the same approach former cornerback Jamarcus King took when Nixon arrived late last summer.
“I learned a lot from Jamarcus coming in,” Nixon said. “He was probably one of the reasons, him, [defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson] and Muschamp, why I came to this school, especially being from California.
“[King] helped me a lot learning. How he helped me, I help the younger guys, because I know more, so I get a chance to help Israel [Mukuamu], Korey Banks, Tavyn Jackson. I’ve helped them out a lot.”