Friday Conversation: Derrick Nix

Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix breaks down his stable of runners, from Jaylen Walton to freshman addition Eric Swinney, in this edition of Friday Conversation.

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On the Ole Miss running backs as a whole:

“I think I have a solid group. I get a chance to go watch them condition and some speed and agility things. They can actually come in and do some film study on their own. They’re looking good right now. It’s not time for them to peak yet, but the guys have got the right attitude and the right work ethic. It’s good to have them all here.”

On freshman running back Eric Swinney:

“I think the No. 1 thing is he’s a tremendous kid with character, and he’s a winner. As far as football attributes, I think he’s a guy that can really do everything on the field. I’ll learn a lot more in about another month or so when we get him on the field and get to work with him. He’s a guy who runs for power, agility, has good quickness and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s just our type of guy for our offense. There’s nothing he can’t do in our scheme. I’m excited about the chance to get to work with him.”

On if anything surprises him about senior Jaylen Walton anymore:

“Just the tremendous work ethic he has, I think that continues to amaze me. He’s finding things to play for and to work for. There’s no job too small or too big for him. He’s always out to try to prove himself every single time he touches the field. I think that’s the biggest compliment I can give him is that he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He’s a guy that’s continually trying to get better. He’s not a huge guy, so he’s got to do things to overcompensate for that part of his game. There’s a never-ending hunger for him to get better.”

On junior running back Akeem Judd:

“I’m really counting on him to be prepared to be the starter. I tell every one of them you’ve got to prepare every day. You don’t know how many carries or what you’ll get going into the game, and you don’t know what will happen over the course of a game. I’m counting on him to be ready to go, and he’s taken the bull by the horns, so to speak. He’s getting ready. I challenged him on controlling his weight and getting his weight back down to around the 220-215 range and getting a little bit faster. I’m really excited about seeing where he’s going to be in August.”

On how much Judd’s toe injury influenced his redshirt season:

“I don’t think it was that serious. I think that was more of a nagging injury than anything that was kind of going to slow him down completely. He never missed a day of practice and things like that. So in that aspect it didn’t hinder him from improving every single time. I think the best thing that happened for him was to redshirt, especially coming out of a junior college atmosphere. He was able to get all the way acclimated to our weight room and class and the way we do things on offense. It’s going to help him these next two years.”

On redshirt sophomore running back Jordan Wilkins:

“He has all the tools necessary to be a very successful running back. I think he’s always had the want-to and ambition. Now he’s putting the hustle behind it as well. He’s training to be the very best he can be, and it’s showing up in his every-day actions right now. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have a pretty good season coming up ‘cause he’s put the work in and the core of the talent is there.”

On what the running backs can do as a group to improve on a difficult 2014 rushing season:

“The biggest thing in the spring we wanted to correct that we didn’t do last fall was just make sure we get the yards that are there. Sometimes that’s one yard, sometimes that’s five, sometimes that’s 20. But take the yards that are there and the big play will come if we continue to do it that way. Be consistent and don’t live for the play behind. Play the next play. If we can do it that way and have that right attitude, I think we’ll be fine. Offensive line, we’ll have all of our starters back, basically, from a year ago. We’ll be much improved there. Jaylen Walton is a senior this year. Wilkins is getting ready to be in his second season. There’s so much you can see on film from having a whole year to review, as well as going through spring ball to improve yourself. Just from that alone we’ll be better.”

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