Tyrone Nix only knew one way to play the game of football when he was a collegian at the University of Southern Mississippi in the early 1990s - all out.
That is the style he wants to bring to Ole Miss' defense and he has that opportunity now since new Rebel Head Coach Houston Nutt hired him as the defensive coordinator.
"I'm very excited to be here. I met Coach Nutt a few years ago and always felt he'd be a great guy to work for if the opportunity presented itself," Nix, who comes to Ole Miss from a stint as the South Carolina DC under Steve Spurrier, began. "I feel very blessed to have this opportunity.
"Coach Nutt has assembled a great staff and I am honored to be a part of it. Everyone gets along very well and you can feel the togetherness and how we are all pulling the rope in the same direction. I'm very excited to work with Tracy Rocker, Chris Vaughn and Kim Dameron on defense. We are going to build something strong here."
Nix's coaching bloodline started in high school in Attalla, Alabama.
"My first influence was Coach Wayman Townsel in high school. He wanted me to succeed him as the next head coach at my high school when my playing days were over. That was a goal of mine. I repsected and admired him so much, that was an honor to me," said Nix.
But those plans were derailed when USM Coach Jeff Bower simply wouldn't let one of his all-time greats leave his program.
"Coach Townsel understood when I got the opportunity to coach at Southern with Coach Bower and then DC John Thompson. Coach Townsel told me I couldn't pass that chance up and he told me if I worked hard and kept my nose clean that I would be a good college coach. It was fantastic to have his blessing," Nix stated.
Nix said he learend a lot from Bower and Thompson, but he also grew close to former USM Coach P. W. Underwood.
"He was one of my mentors. I was appreciative he took me under his wing. I have a lot of guys who helped me along the way I am thankful to all of them," Tyrone said.
They all impressed upon Nix one rule that is not negotiable. Coach kids to play the way you played - hard, all the time, every snap, no matter the circumstances.
"Play hard. Give it all you have. Leave it all on the field. Don't hold anything back. That's the way I played, that's the way I was coached to play and that is the way I coach my players to play," he continued. "I know that is what every good coach demands, but it's so basic to success."
Nix, a USM icon, is excited about being at Ole Miss.
"I have spent a lot of my life in Mississippi and it feels good to be back. Working with Coach Nutt is a tremendous opportunity. We want to make this an elite program," he said. "I feel blessed. My wife is from Mississippi and I get the chance to work with and learn from one of the best in the business in Coach Nutt.
"Everything has been great in this transition. My parents raised me to be honest and to work hard and these kind of opportunities would present themselves. They taught me to do the best I can in everything I do and the rest will take care of itself. That philosophy has paid off for me as a player and as a coach."
Nix will coach an attacking style of defense at Ole Miss.
"We want to be aggressive and dictate to the offense. We want to deliver the first blow," he said. "The key will be having the players who play with that mentality and attitude. The biggest thing we will do is getting our players to understand that and understand what they have to do to get the maximum out of their ability.
"If we can be aggressive and be sound fundamentally, we have a chance every time we line up."
Nix's defense is a base 4-3 look but he said the Rebels will be multiple.
"We will play some 3-4 too and will be multiple, but we will only do what our kids know inside and out," he explained. "Our system has not been hard to learn anywhere I've been so I don't expect that to be a problem here."
Tyrone said two ingredients will never be sacrificed in the personnel he uses - speed and heart.
"We may give up a little size now and then at some positions, but we will not give up speed and heart. If you can run fast and play with all your heart, you can play for me. Speed is the number one physical attribute we want and heart is the number one intangible," he stated.
Nix has been in and around the SEC most of his career and he's glad to remain in it.
"It's bigger and better every year and that's the way I like it. You have to bring your top game every week and that's what I'm all about as a competitor," he added. "I'm just glad to remain a part of it and I'm looking forward to helping Coach Nutt take Ole Miss into the elite of the elite conference."
In recruiting, Tyrone is looking for, well, guys who played like him.
"I played hard. I loved every second of the games and whatever it took leading up to the games," he closed. "I wasn't blessed with a lot of ability but I put it all out there and worked to make myself the best I could.
"We will go after guys with great ability, obviously, but we are also going to be looking very closely at their character."
Tyrone Nix -
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