The Temple University football team was in a tough spot when wide receivers coach Keith Gaither left in early March for the same position at East Carolina.
Gaither had been hired to replace Frisman Jackson, who departed in January to join the coaching staff of the Tennessee Titans.
It would seem the Owls made the best of a difficult situation by bringing in veteran coach Stan Hixon just prior to spring practice.
Hixon had been out of coaching last year following his dismissal by the Houston Texans, working as a consultant, but brings 36 years of coaching experience to the Owls. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL and all but five of his seasons of coaching – including the last 21 – have come as a wide receivers coach.
Among his college stops were Penn State, Louisiana State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and South Carolina.
“We’re excited to have coach Hixon, he has such great experience with the NFL and all the programs he’s been at,” said senior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood. “He knows what he’s doing and he’s going to prepare us the best he can to be one of the best receivers in the country and prepare us for the next level.”
Hixon reunited with first-year Temple coach Geoff Collins, who was a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech in 1999 when Hixon was the wide receivers coach.
“You could see the leadership, the knowledge, the go-get-it situation, the wanting to get to the next step and doing the extra,” said Hixon of his first impressions of Collins. “Working with Coach Collins way back when at Georgia Tech and knowing a little bit about the offense (coordinator Dave Patenaude) ran at Coastal Carolina and learning a little bit about the receivers here, it was very attractive.”
Hixon has been learning the offense himself, arriving on campus two days before practice started.
“I got here on Saturday, we had a meeting on Sunday and we started practice on Monday,” said Hixon. “So this week has been better than last week.”
Hixon gave his breakdown of a few of the Owls’ top receivers:
On Keith Kirkwood:
“He’s a leader, very knowledgeable, can play all four positions, does a good job catching the ball and has good size and speed.”
On Adonis Jennings:
“He’s faster than what I thought. He’s a long strider. If you watched Saturday’s practice he had 2-4 deep balls go for touchdowns and that happens all the time. He’s a good player, good hands, size and speed. I knew he was good, but he’s faster than I thought.”
On Isaiah Wright:
"He's been mostly slot. Sometimes we'll have two slot guys. He'll have his opportunities. He can play outside too, but his body type is more inside."
Watch the full interview above.