X Marks the Left Tackle Spot

Xavier Nixon

Two weeks ago Florida coach Urban Meyer hinted that freshman Xavier Nixon just might crack the starting lineup for his defending BCS Champs. Well, Nixon was no factor in the Georgia game as the established offensive line had its best day of the season.

However Florida's blockers were a lot less impressive in the Vanderbilt game and comes Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina the highly touted freshman blocker was in there for the first snap against the Gamecocks. It was the first of what many of us expect to be many starts for the big fella.

Xavier Nixon‘s ascent to the starting left tackle job has always been viewed as a matter of when, not If the standout from Fayetteville, North Carolina would become a part of the Gator front wall. He is incredibly athletic, smart and has great feet. Those are just three of the factors that made Nixon one of the mist highly recruited offensive lineman in the nation in a year ago.

Florida's offense did not have a great game in this one, but it protected Tim Tebow and created enough running room to gain 338 yards of total offense and earn a 24-14 win over South Carolina. After the game the Gator rookie spoke with the assembled media.

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On his emotions about starting:

"I can't even explain it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. As a true freshman to get my first start in the SEC I can't explain it."

On not telling his mother about the start:

"I wanted to surprise her. Somebody almost gave it way before the game and she almost started to cry to I just wanted to keep it a secret and let her see for herself."

On how he handled it personally:

"It was a feeling I felt before high school like a burning feeling in my stomach. I felt the need to prove something and I felt like I needed to prove something."

On how he felt he played:

"I feel like I could have done better, but that's just me."

On fitting in with the other starters:

"I felt like things went smooth. The O-Line was jelling. We were working together and everyone was communicating and that made my job a lot better."

On the play that shook loose the jitters:

"I think it was in the first couple of plays I had an inside zone play and I put by guy on his back."

On where he goes from here:

"The next thing is Sunday. Come in, watch film and try to get better. Come out to practice Tuesday and play hard."

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There are a number of benefits to getting Nixon into the mix. First the Gators get to reinstate the trio of Pouncey, Pouncey and Johnson on the inside. Additionally, moving a freshman into the mix will motivate other young linemen in the Florida camp and deliver a great message on the recruiting trail.

Think of it this way - if the defending national champs with a 19-game winning streak are willing to put a freshman on the line for a key SEC game down the stretch it's pretty good evidence that Florida will always make room for a special newcomer to get on the field.

And that's what every great prospect wants to know.

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