Patrick Nixon-Youman is a name that has likely been forgetten by many Illini fans.
Nixon-Youman was a 5-foot-10 cornerback from Jacksonville, Florida and was named to ESPN’s top-150 recruits for the class of 2009. Scout.com listed him as the no. 53 cornerback in the country, and Nixon-Youman chose Illinois over the likes of Flordia, South Flordia, West Virigina, and LSU. Needless to say, he was a pretty good haul for Zook and the rest of the staff.
However, he didn’t exactly pile up the statistics that Zook had probably hoped, but I vividly remember a game on September 23, 2010 (his sophomore season) that I attended with some family friends in which he had a huge impact. In front of a huge crowd early on that season against Indiana, Nixon-Youman dropped back into coverage, read the quarterback, and stepped right in front of a crossing route.
You can see the highlight right at the start of his highlight video:
I was lucky enough to be seated right around the 45-yard line and got to see Nixon-Youman fly down the sideline untouched for the 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. I was still in high school at that time, and there hadn’t been much to celebrate since the Rose Bowl year. That game got me excited for Illini football again, even if it was just a result of Nixon-Youman’s outstanding play.
The rest of his career, Nixon-Youman did not impress quite as much as he did that day against Indiana. He finished his tenure with the Illini recording just two picks (both in the 2010 season) and 79 total tackles. During his senior year, he had 39 total tackles, and he had a career high of 10 tackles against Minnesota on November 26, 2011.
Although he may not go down in the record books, Nixon-Youman made a special impact on me at a young age, laying the foundation of my Illini fandom, while also showcasing some amazing athleticism.