Derrick Nix -

Derrick Nix returns to college coaching after a stint with the Atlanta Falcons. Go inside for an interview with the Rebels' new running back coach.

Former Southern Miss player and assistant coach Derrick Nix joined Houston Nutt's first Ole Miss staff on Jan. 2, 2008.

Nix is reunited with his brother, Tyrone, whom Nutt hired as defensive coordinator on Dec. 11. Derrick Nix spent 2007 in the NFL as offensive assistant and quality control coach for Bobby Petrino's Atlanta Falcons.

Nix, one of the best-known players to ever wear a Golden Eagle uniform, began his four-year stint on the USM sidelines as a defensive graduate assistant in 2003. The following year, Nix was promoted to tight ends coach before being appointed to the running backs coaching position, where he spent two years.

In 2006 under Nix's direction, the Southern Miss running backs ran for 2,378 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, the first time the Golden Eagles ran for over 2,000 yards since 1987. True freshman Damion Fletcher, who earned first-team All-Conference USA honors and freshman All-American honors, ran for 1,388 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, the second most yards in a season in school history. Fletcher set the freshman rushing record at Southern Miss and for Conference USA, and he was also named a finalist for the Conerly Trophy, signifying the top player in the state of Mississippi.

In 2005, Nix got career-best years from youthful players Larry Thomas and Cody Hull. Thomas posted three 100-yard rushing performances, while Hull started the final two games of the year and recorded his first 100-yard rushing outing in the New Orleans Bowl with 161 yards on 37 carries, setting the Bowl record and the Southern Miss all-time bowl record. Hull's 37 carries tied for the fourth most in school history, matching Nix's own 37-carry performance against Nevada in 1998.

As the Golden Eagles' Tight Ends Coach in 2004, Nix's crew, used primarily as blockers in the offensive scheme, was successful.

A three-time all-conference selection, Nix was a record-setting running back throughout his Southern Miss playing days and was named to the USM "Team of the Century." He recently became one of only five players in the history of the football program to become a member of the Southern Miss Legends Club.

Nix was the first Golden Eagle ever to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his freshman and sophomore campaigns and the only Southern Miss and C-USA player ever to rush for 1,000 yards or more in three seasons. His career achievements at Southern Miss also included being the C-USA Freshman of the Year and a first team Freshman All-America in 1998.

A sprained ankle, along with the kidney problem, forced Nix to sit out a year and a half, before returning for a successful senior season in 2002, which earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl. After successful kidney transplant surgery in June 2003, Nix began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Golden Eages.

The Attalla, Ala., native was born February 22, 1980 and is a 2002 Southern Miss graduate with a bachelor's degree in sport administration.

How strange has this past year been for you?

It really has been wild, having one year in the NFL go the way it did. That was different, but for my coaching career, it was good. It was a learning experience. I picked up on a lot of football and worked with Bobby Petrino. And then I ended up back in a great situation here in the state of Mississippi with Coach Nutt at this wonderful university.

Can you talk about coaching with your brother?

It is a huge deal any time you get brothers or family members in the same place. Your mom and dad can come over and visit and not worry about wearing different teams' shirts or anything like that. It is always good to have family close by. Great situation.

What about coming back to the state of Mississippi?

I know I am from Alabama, but it is like coming back home. Mississippi is Mississippi, and once you are in it, you are locked into this place forever. It is like coming home.

Do you know the exact area you will recruit?

I had the north part of the state and Memphis when I was at Southern, so that would be a great fit. I'm familiar with this area, but I don't know for sure.

Have you been able to look at the returning running backs yet?

I have looked at some tape, but we have focusing on recruiting since I got here. I remember recruiting Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis. Both those are bigger backs and really talented individuals. They are guys that can make yards after contact.

How did you handle that week with the Falcons during the Petrino situation?

You prepare for anything as a coach. It was the hardest on our players having to go through the transition. But once that got settled and have a game, it can take the distraction away, because the bottom line is you have to prepare for the next game. Nothing else is as important. We weathered the storm, and that place will rebuild and come back from that.

How has the year with the Falcons prepared you? What do you take from it?

I was exposed to so much football. At this stage of my career, it allowed me to really concentrate on the ins and outs of the game as far as techniques and different schemes.

What is appealing in the college game?

Being a younger coach, dealing with younger kids and college kids is a passion I have. It is special to watch a player develop. It is a lot of fun.

What is the next thing in your plans?

I am trying to sell my home in Atlanta, and I look forward to making Oxford my home.

Will being a former NFL coach help with recruiting?

Every kid is different, but I know some kids will love the aspect that I was in the pros coaching the best athletes in football. Some say it is irrelevant because this is college football. It can go either way.

How can you prepare a kid for the NFL?

You have to get it through to them to take the mindset that someone is trying to take their job everyday, and that they are being evaluated every single day. That is the main attitude they have to have to play on that level.

Bio by Ole Miss Media Relations

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