By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Daviyon Nixon had to wait two years before appearing in a game as an Iowa football player, but the tears on his face after Saturday's season opener against Miami of Ohio showed that it was worth the wait.
The sophomore defensive tackle from Kenosha, Wis., made his much-anticipated Hawkeye debut in the 38-14 victory over Miami of Ohio, and before a sellout crowd at Kinnick Stadium.
He only finished with one tackle, but statistics hardly tell the story about why Saturday's game was so special to Nixon, who originally signed with Iowa in 2017.
"It made me appreciate it just so much more," Nixon said of having to wait for two years to play. "Like during the Hawk walk when we were walking into the stadium, I saw my dad and he's crying and I'm trying not to cry in front of the whole entire fan base. So I'm just smiling and shaking hands and waving.
"But after the game, I did cry because it just overwhelmed me. I was so proud of myself that I made it to this day. And now I know that I've got to keep going and never stop fighting."
Nixon played his freshman season for Iowa Western Community College and then transferred to Iowa where he was redshirted last season.
He thought briefly about entering the NCAA transfer portal after transferring to Iowa, but decided to the stay the course.
Following Saturday's game, Iowa senior defensive end Amani Jones helped Nixon celebrate his milestone moment.
"It was a lot of fun and it felt good," Nixon said. "It was like starting a new journey. After the game I looked at Amani Jones, and I was like, are you going to cry with me? And he was like, yearh, I'll cry with you because I know your've been through a lot and it;s been a long time.
"So I sat there in the locker room and I cried a little bit. All the coaches were walking up to me, are you okay? And I'm like, yeah. Amani's like don't worry about it coach they're tears of joy. Amani is laughing and I staerted smiling and crying.It just felt great."
As for his performance on the field, Nixon said there is room for improvement, but he considers it a success because Iowa won the game.
"After the film, it was mainly all smiles," Nixon said. "I didn't cry after watching the film. After the film, I feel like I could have done a little bit better in terms of stopping the run and things like. But overall, we did get the win."
Injury report: The news about junior offensive lineman Alaric Jackson was encouraging with all things considered.
Iowa's starting left tackle will miss at least two games according to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, but Jackson won't need surgery on the knee that he injured in the first quarter against Miami of Ohio.
"The good news with Alaric is it was a sprain," Ferentz told reporters on Tuesday. "So the bad news is he's going to miss a couple weeks, but he will not be with us for the next two games, that's for sure, and we'll just assess it as we go along. So that's the status right now."
Sophomore defensive back Riley Moss also suffered a leg injury against Miami of Ohio and will be out for maybe as long as a month.
" Riley is probably going to miss four to six weeks," Ferentz said.
Sophomore defensive back Julius Brents still is recovering from a injury that kept him from playing against Miami of Ohio, and he is also expected to miss the Rutgers game on Saturday.
The good news is that junior guard Cole Banwart could be ready to play on Saturday against Rutgers after having missed the season opener because of an injury.
"We had two guys not dress, two guys on the two-deep, Banwart and Julius Brents were both out," Ferentz said. "Brents is going to be out for a couple weeks. Cole has got a shot, I think, this week. So we'll just see how this week goes, but he worked today and looked pretty good.
"So that's good news."
Freshmen of influence: Three true freshmen saw action for Iowa in the season opener against Miami of Ohio, and they will continue to see action based on what Ferentz said Tuesday.
Running back Tyler Goodson, tight end Sam LaPorta and offensive lineman Justin Britt were the only true freshmen to play in the season opener.
Goodson, a native of Suwanee, Ga., played most of the fourth quarter and rushed for 36 yards on nine carries.
Goodson was named the Georgia Player of the Year as a senior and he apparently is living up to the hype at Iowa because Ferentz seemed to suggest on Tuesday that Goodson will play a role all season despite being at least no higher than third on the depth chart behind juniors Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young.
Ferentz said Tuesday that junior Ivory Kelly-Martin, who started six games last season, including the season opener, still was ahead of Goodson on the depth chart. But Goodson was clearly the third running back in the season opener.
"He's not ahead of him, but he's in the picture for sure," Ferentz said Goodson. "My guess is we're going to need all four of those guys, and we like all four."
Ferentz also made a point to mention fellow true freshman running back Shadrick Byrd as another option at running back.
"And we like Shadrick Byrd, too," Ferentz said. "He's been a good addition, and there's nothing about him not to like based on what he's done thus far."
Byrd, a native of Albaster, Ala., enrolled early at Iowa last January and participated in spring practice.