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The responsibilities in that role translated well into what Nixon was asked to do Saturday.

“As personal protector on punt, it’s like you’re the quarterback for the punt team, so you have to know all the protections,” Nixon said. “It’s the same thing as safety on defense. You have to call out all the receivers and what you see.”

There is another parallel in Nixon’s additional roles. Nixon is listed as a starter at safety, and Robinson’s availability for Saturday’s game at Virginia (2-4, 0-2) is uncertain.

Meanwhile, Cierski’s return from injury did not dislodge Nixon from the personal protector spot.

As he usually does, Nixon secured it by simply doing his job.

“He did great and ended up winning that job outright,” Edsall said. “He’s doing the same thing in the secondary. He’s a conscientious kid and a smart football player. He takes great notes and really understands the game and asks good questions. For a freshman, he’s done a really good job.”