By Ole Miss Media Relations
OXFORD – Ole Miss’ running backs coach for the past four years, Derrick Nix will return in that post under new head coach Hugh Freeze, it was announced Monday.
“Derrick’s abilities as a coach and recruiter are tremendous, and his obvious familiarity with our players is a huge plus for the staff,” said Freeze. “Derrick is very well respected around the state. He and I share the same core values, and I’m excited to work with him.”
In his time in Oxford, Nix has tutored two of the most productive backs in school history, while the Rebels have ranked top-three in the SEC in rushing twice.
The Nix backfield stable helped Ole Miss register the third-best ground game in the SEC in 2010, while Brandon Bolden ranked No. 5 in the league in rushing. A Nix pupil for the duration of his career, Bolden finished second in school history in both total touchdowns and rushing TDs, third in all-purpose yards and fourth in rushing yards.
In 2009, Dexter McCluster became the first player in SEC history with 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season. The first-team All-American recorded the second-highest rushing total in school history and went on to be drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his first season with the Rebels, Nix helped construct a running attack that ranked second in the SEC. Using a balanced attack, the Rebels featured three rushers that piled up at least 500 rushing yards in McCluster (655), Cordera Eason (647) and Bolden (542). McCluster was also named a second team All-SEC selection as an all-purpose player.
As a recruiter, Nix played a key role in Ole Miss assembling top-20 signing classes each of the past three seasons, including a No. 15 ranked group in 2010. With the bulk of his focus on in-state talent, Nix helped ink a 2011 class that included Mississippi’s top five recruits and a record eight of the “Dandy Dozen.”
Before arriving in Oxford, 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 Southern Miss uniform, began his four-year stint on the Golden Eagles 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 USM 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.
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-American in 1998.
A sprained ankle, along with a 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 Eagles.
The Attalla, Ala., native was born February 22, 1980 and is a 2002 Southern Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sports administration. Nix is married to the former Allison Story of Frankfort, Ky., who also attended USM and played forward on the women’s basketball team.