Last weekend Nick Hixson ‘12 joined Andre Holmes and Jared Veldheer as one of three Hillsdale alumni playing in the NFL. Like Holmes in 2011, Hix- son will have to work his way up from the practice squad. As a new member of the New Orleans Saints, Hixson shares with us how he perservered through two cuts, why the Saints will rebound from the bounty scandal, and what Charger football needs to do to have a successful season.
With the season getting going on Friday, NFL teams are cutting down their rosters and you were waived. That was a disappointment. What’s next for you?
Nick: Actually, I just got signed with the practice squad yesterday, so I won’t be going home. That was some good news to hear. I’m pretty excit- ed. I got back from a road trip to Tennessee and they told me to stick around and I got signed to the practice squad yesterday.
Are you disappointed about the cut or excited to be on the practice squad?
Nick: Oh no, it’s definitely exciting for me. The practice squad is a great opportunity to stick around the league and your best chance to make a roster whether it’s this year or the next year.
You were cut in the spring, then signed again, then cut again. Now you are on the practice squad. What did you do during that break? How were you able to maintain and prepare to jump back in?
Nick: Definitely the tough- est part was mental. The last four months have been a lot of uncertainty; never know- ing what was going to happen the next day. I did a lot of soul searching trying to figure out what I would do if football didn’t work out.
Can you give us your day- to-day schedule as a professional football player?
Nick: General Schedule: team meetings at 8am, position meeting afterwards. So we’ll get done around 10:30 with meetings then practice after- wards. Then we have a weight room session. After the weight room, we have meetings again, usually about practice. It ends up being around an eight-hour day. But everyday is different.
We have some off days and some loftier days where we have a little more meetings and little more film time.
Have there beenany players who have been able to mentor you?
Nick: Oh yeah, absolutely. From the day I got there Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, and Mal- com Jenkin; those three veteran guys in the secondary. There’s no harassing here. They wel- comed me with open arms. They have tried to help me in every way possible. It’s been great. Greer is probably one of the most stand up guys I know. I got released and when I came back to the team they were all excited to see me.
What’s the attitude of the team surrounding last year’s bounty controversy?
Nick: Yeah, I think the media is kind of blowing it out of proportion with how it’s affecting us. I wasn’t here when [it happened] obviously so I haven’t seen the difference. But it’s business as usual. I don’t see how it’s affecting us really at all besides losing a few key guys. We’ve got something to prove; prove that we can go out there and win a Super Bowl,
no matter what the odds or what people are trying to hold against us. There’s definitely extra motivation and it’s a special year and a special op- portunity for us.
Have you been following the Chargers?
Nick: I’m a Charger for life. I miss every one of those guys. What I had with the Hill- sdale football team is some- thing I’ll never get anywhere else. Those guys are my family and some of my best friends. Actually I was playing at Ten- nessee when we were playing
Cal-Pa. My old roommates had a five-way text going as I was in the locker room getting my pads on and I saw the score. A tough loss, but I was rooting for them.
What are the keys for the Chargers this season?
Nick: They just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and trusting our coaching staff. We have great coaches who put us in a position to win. We have a lot of guys who are coming back so we have high expectations. It should be an exciting year.”