NCAA Names ASU¹s Mike Nixon As Finalist For Prestigious Walter Byers Scholarship

March 24, 2010

TEMPE, Ariz.--Arizona State University linebacker Mike Nixon (Phoenix, Ariz.) has been named as one of six finalists for the 2010 Walter Byers Scholarship, the NCAA has announced. There are three male finalists and three female finalists for the Byers Scholarship. From this group one male and one female winner will be invited to the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana on April, 18, 2010 for interviews and the winners will be notified in late April.

In 1988, the National Collegiate Athletic Association established the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship Program as a means of recognizing the contributions of the former executive director through encouraging excellence in academic performance by student-athletes. Under this program, one male and one female student-athlete are annually awarded a postgraduate scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for success in postgraduate study. It is intended that an individual named a Byers Scholar will be recognized as one who has combined the best elements of mind and body to achieve national distinction for his or her achievements, and promises to be a future leader in his or her chosen field of career service.

The program is administered by the Walter Byers Scholarship Committee, established by the NCAA membership and appointed by the NCAA Divisions I, II and III Management Councils. The committee will review the nominations, contact the finalists for an interview by the committee and select the final recipients.

Nixon is one of the most decorated academic student-athletes in ASU history. Nixon was a highly productive linebacker who began his ASU career in 2006 after playing minor league baseball for four years. He played in all 50 games over the last four years, starting 31. Nixon totaled 253 tackles (169 solo), 25.0 tackles for loss (minus 93 yards), 5.5 sacks (minus 33 yards), 16 pass break-ups, eight interceptions, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. He emerged as one of ASU's top defensive players over the last two seasons, leading the team in tackles in both 2008 and 2009. His five interceptions as a junior in 2008 tied for the most in the Pac-10 that season. Accomplished in the classroom, he was a three-time First Team Academic All-Pac-10 and First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree. He was a Wuerffel Trophy Finalist and was a Lott Trophy Quarterfinalist.

In 2009, Nixon started all 12 games at weak side linebacker and led the Sun Devils in tackles for the second straight year, totaling 73 tackles (52 solo) on the season, and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. He also had six tackles for loss (minus 21 yards), 0.5 sacks (minus six yards), four pass break-ups and three forced fumbles on the season. Nixon was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection, a First Team Academic All-Pac-10 and First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII selection for the third straight year. He served as a team captain, along with defensive end Dexter Davis and offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao. Nixon had four or more tackles in every game in 2009 with six or more in nine of the team's 12 games. He collected three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, and blocked a punt in ASU's season-opening victory over Idaho State on Sept. 5. For that performance he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week and Lott Trophy IMPACT Player of the Week. Nixon collected seven tackles (six solo) and forced a fumble that led to an ASU touchdown at No. 21 Georgia on Sept. 26.

Nixon played in all 12 games in 2008, making 11 starts (10 at weak side linebacker and one at middle linebacker). He led the team and tied for the Pac-10 lead with five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He also led the Sun Devils with 90 tackles (60 solo), which ranked sixth in the Pac-10, and had 8.0 tackles for loss (minus 36 yards), one sack, five pass break-ups and one forced fumble on the season. Following the campaign he was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection, and earned First-Team all-conference honors from He was a Pac-10 All-Academic First-Team selection and an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree. Nixon had seven tackles (four solo) and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of victory over UCLA on Nov. 28. His interception for a score was one of an NCAA record-tying four defensive touchdowns the Sun Devils scored in that game. He shared the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Year award with senior safety Troy Nolan and also was a co-winner of the Clyde B. Smith Award for academic achievement, along with senior linebacker Anthony Reyes, at the team's year-end banquet.

Nixon played in all 13 games in 2007, making four starts at middle linebacker and finished fourth on the team with 58 tackles (37 solo). He totaled three tackles for loss (minus 12 yards), including one sack (minus nine yards), and four pass break-ups on the season with two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. In 2006 Nixon played in all 13 games, starting four at strong side linebacker and totaled 32 tackles (20 solo), 8.0 tackles for loss (-24 yards), 3.0 sacks (-10 yards), three pass deflections and one forced fumble. A 2002 graduate of Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Nixon was also an outstanding baseball player (catcher) who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school and played in their farm system until the end of 2005. His parents are Jim (CFO of Marco Crane) and Debbie (health care consultant) Nixon of Phoenix, Ariz.