Back for More

Derrick Nix is the only holdover from the now-departed coaching staff of Houston Nutt. Thing is, he isn't really a holdover.

Follow SpiritBen on Twitter

No, the return of Nix, as announced earlier this month, was never a sure thing. He interviewed for the job of running backs coach -- his old post -- like everyone else, however many candidates were in contention.

After four years in Oxford, here he was, laying out his plans for the future to new Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. He had to sell himself. But he wanted to return to Ole Miss. Nix felt there was unfinished business at the school.

"The main thing is, and it went back to recruiting again, I felt like I had a hand in a lot of the guys we have here. Just that sense of unfinished business, so to speak," he said. "You want to be able to see this thing through and see what happens.

"You never want to leave a job unfinished, and in my mind it was still unfinished."

The return of Nix was made official Jan. 2, and the news spread quickly.

A number of recruits, most notably Ole Miss commit Jaylen Walton and 2013 prospect Kailo Moore, responded positively. Nix is renowned as a recruiter. He has been credited as a major reason why Ole Miss was able to land its top-20 class in 2011, which included such highly-rated prospects as Nick Brassell, Donte Moncrief and C.J. Johnson.

But there was also a sense of relief in the locker room. Nix said having a familiar face can only help in the transition from Nutt to Freeze.

Freeze was named Ole Miss head coach in December
Bruce Newman

"No doubt about it. Just giving them a plan and goals to achieve every day. Just to have one guy that's familiar with them that they can talk to, I think it helps out kids a lot in that transition period," Nix said.

"It's got some positives that all our guys are trying to take advantage of, especially a lot of the guys we recruited a year of ago that were just freshmen a year ago. I had a hand in all those guys (coming to Ole Miss). Just to be able to hang around them and help see their careers finish, it's been good."

Nix has barely begun to unpack the boxes he stuffed full in November. His office is mostly bare following the dismissal of Nutt in November.

With two weeks until National Signing Day, he's pounding the pavement in recruiting. Fourteen prospects, according to, have given Freeze and staff non-binding verbal commitments for the 2012 signing class.

"The most common (misconception) to overcome (in recruiting) is that we throw the ball 90 percent of the time and run the ball 10 percent. Last year at Arkansas State, they were probably 55 percent run and 45 percent pass," Nix said.

"That's the biggest misconception. Basically my backs here, we're running the same types of runs we did a year ago. The only thing really different is the tempo and the speed we'll try to get plays in. We'll try to go in and average 80 to 85 plays a game, if we can and try to keep a defense on their heels."

Ole Miss currently has four running backs committed -- Walton, I'tavius Mathers, Kenno Loyal and Mike Hilton -- and is hard after a few more. Once the dust settles, Nix will shift focus to those players on campus.

Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis are gone. The rushing burden is left to rising junior Jeff Scott and senior Devin Thomas, at least for now.

"Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis, they did a great job. I kind of raised them. We were all here together for four years," Nix said.

Jeff Scott
Associated Press

"But Devin and Jeff Scott played vital roles these last couple of seasons. They'll be called upon like those guys were to take on more of a role and more of a leadership deal. They'll be the guys we depend on a lot more."

While the surroundings are the same, the team is the same, etc., Nix is the new man on campus. He's learning the ins and outs of his new co-workers as he goes, and much of his time has been spent in a car with Freeze recruiting.

"I'm the only one left over from the last staff, so I'm just trying to learn everybody and get used to working with them. It's been good so far. I'm looking forward to some great days ahead," Nix said.

"Coach Freeze is a great guy. From everything I've heard, he's a great guy to work for. His passion about recruiting and getting the best guys in here, it's not all about their height weight and speed, but about their character. That's what attracted me to Ole Miss and pulled me back. And I've had a great time here. I've been treated well, my wife loves it here. It was all a plus."

OM Spirit Top Stories