When former Nebraska head coach Mike Riley assembled his 2017 recruiting class, three Nebraska natives received scholarships: Austin Allen, Jaylin Bradley and Chris Walker. But not then-walk-on Trent Hixson.
Over two years later, Hixson’s moment finally came, as head coach Scott Frost announced Friday the sophomore lineman received a scholarship. The good news continued for Hixson on Monday, as Nebraska’s first depth chart placed him as the team’s starting left guard.
The whirlwind couple of days for Hixson began on Friday, as he said the team got together after practice and discussed the walk-on program. With his coaches presenting Hixson as a successful example of the program, they made the scholarship announcement.
“I was ecstatic; it was a really special moment for me,” Hixson said.
In a press conference on Friday, Frost said the whole team was fired up to see Hixson earn a scholarship.
“He’s really the first one I hope in a long line of walk-ons while I’m here that comes in, goes to work and becomes a guy that’s going to play or start for us,” Frost said. “So, he deserves it, and I hope this isn’t the last one.”
Reflecting back on when he first arrived on campus, a scholarship and starting position seemed far away, but that didn’t deter Hixson from setting long-term goals for himself and taking the steps to achieve them.
“I think my goal was to get a scholarship, and I think that really helped push me to become a starter,” he said. “It was kind of one step at a time, but as the coaching staff came in, things progressed really quickly.”
He credits much of that progression to offensive line coach Greg Austin, along with offensive assistant Frank Verducci. Additionally, Hixson spent time learning from an experienced offensive line unit last year as a freshman backup, as he said Tanner Farmer and Boe Wilson both worked with him to improve his skill set.
In last year’s season opener against Akron, Hixson was a no-name redshirt freshman who had never stepped on the field before. Now, with a season-opening contest against South Alabama less than a week away, that sudden jump means a different role and attitude for Hixson.
“Last year, I was number two, and I did my job every game by watching the other guys and correcting little things for them,” he said. “This year, it’s just doing what I know, sticking to the basics and helping the team progress.”
Hixson’s whirlwind week will continue with intense game preparation leading up to Saturday’s contest and his first career start. If his consistency in practice is any indication of his future performances, the former walk-on will slot in just fine.
And for Hixson, it’ll just be another step in helping the team achieve success.
“Honestly, I just do what I’m supposed to and try to just do my best,” Hixson said. “The coaches were pleased with what I did in the spring. I kept that through the fall, and I kept on improving. I’m excited about it.”