This week’s player to watch: Roosevelt Nix

Roosevelt Nix made quite a name for himself last season when he became the first true freshman to ever be named Defensive Player of the Year in the Mid-American Conference.

The 6-foot (or 5-foot-11, depending on where you look) 244-pound defensive tackle earned the honor by making a whopping 20 tackles for loss, including 10 sacks, and forcing four fumbles. Now a sophomore, many in the MAC are wondering how he didn’t get more of a look from nearby Big 10 schools, especially after he started the 2011 season by recording a sack and two tackles for loss at Alabama.

No wonder he was a consensus freshman All-American and made it onto both the Bednarik and Nagurski Watch Lists.

He should be one of the best defensive linemen K-State goes up against during nonconference play, even though he won’t be at 100 percent. Nix suffered a toe injury before the season began, and apparently worsened the injury by playing in Kent State’s first two games.

He failed to play until the end of both, and wore a protective boot on his foot when they were over. According to reports, he is only listed as “probable” for Saturday’s game at Snyder Family Stadium.

“(The injury) acts very much like a turf toe,” Kent State coach Darrell Hazell told recordpub.com. “You’ll never have the time to recover from those things while you are in season. But we’ll get what we can get out of him.”

Blocking him will be a main focus for K-State’s offensive line, which struggled in its opening game and has adjusted its lineup in the middle with B.J. Finney moving to center and Nick Puetz and Colten Freeze taking over at the guard spots.

Nix has made eight tackles this season for a defense that allows 320.5 yards per game and ranks 40th nationally.