Meet the Coaches: Auburn offensive coordinator Derrick Nix

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Auburn offensive coordinator Derrick Nix. (AU Athletics)

AUBURN, Ala. – In a turbulent profession where turnover is the norm, Derrick Nix’s 16-year coaching stint at Ole Miss was the exception.

Through four head coaches, including Auburn’s Hugh Freeze, Nix rolled with Rebels from 2008-23.

That changed in January, when Freeze and Nix reunited on the Plains, with Derrick becoming Auburn’s offensive coordinator.

“An opportunity to come to Auburn University with a rich tradition, the history, national championships, Heisman Trophy winners,” Nix said. “Getting back with Coach Freeze, I worked with him at Ole Miss for five years, and ultimately getting the chance to advance in my career. It was a no-brainer.

“I grew up in this state. I know what Iron Bowl weekend feels like and what it means to the people in this state. I’m excited to be a part of it and put my mark on this great program.”

A standout running back at Etowah High School in Attalla, Alabama, Nix followed his older brother by playing at Southern Miss.

“The first thing I knew about Auburn was Bo Jackson, orange and blue, Tigers, War Eagle chant,” Nix said. “I think I was an Auburn Tiger fan the day I was an infant until I was 11 years old.

“Until that point, all I knew was Auburn. That makes it even a little bit sweeter to get the opportunity to come here and work.”

Nix made Southern Miss history by becoming the program’s only player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three seasons before an illness ended his playing career and began his coaching career.

“The next best thing to me to get that thrill, to get that excitement, to get charged up was being a football coach,” he said. “The ability to help mold young men, 18 to 22-year-olds, and relate to them and share my experiences with them to help them be the best version of what they can be is what drives me now.”

Entering his third decade in coaching, Nix aspires to mentor and motivate, imparting life lessons while preparing student-athletes for professional careers.

“I tell them I want them to have an All-America career, be first-rounders and have a 10-year career in the NFL,” he said. “But I’m more proud of a guy who comes back later, he’s got a wife and a kid and he can support himself, and he learned something from me other than just playing football that he can use in his everyday values with his family.

“Seeing these guys develop, remembering who they were when they came out of high school, seeing the men they’ve become. Seeing them have success, it really warms my heart and gives me motivation to keep going.”

A first-time coordinator, Nix has big plans for Auburn’s offense.

“To be a fundamentally efficient scoring machine,” he said. “That means playing fast, playing physical, being fearless, taking care of the football, able to score points. Be exciting, being fun to watch and giving our guys on offense an edge.”

Aside from Xs and Os, Nix knows success starts with recruiting.

“All of these plays work a lot better with really good players,” Nix said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Coach Freeze stresses that we’ve got to do a great job in recruiting. You win when you get the right guys on board, whether it be talent, the right character and the right fit for your program. That’s how you’re going to separate yourself in the fall.”

Nix tells prospective student-athletes about their opportunity to make a difference at Auburn.

“Doing something fresh and brand new,” he said. “Getting us in a position where we can restore our legacy and put ourselves back in position where we are outstanding in the SEC and nationally.

“Being with a proven head coach who has had success on the highest stage, whether it’s championships, going to big-time bowl games, guys getting drafted and graduating from college. We’ve done that and we’ve got the experience and the know-how.”

“I grew up in this state. I know what Iron Bowl weekend feels like and what it means to the people in this state. I’m excited to be a part of it and put my mark on this great program.”

Nix also coaches Auburn’s running backs, a group that includes senior Jarquez Hunter, whose 2,172 career rushing yards rank No. 18 in program history.

“Our guys are hungry,” Nix said. “These guys work. There’s no complaining, there are a lot of guys pulling the rope in the right direction. They want to strive to be great. ‘Win today’ has been my message so far.”

Derrick and his wife, Allison, look forward to raising their three children, 7-year-old daughter Ava and newborn twin boys Derrin and Dray, on the Plains.

“We’re a tight-knit family and we’re all excited to be here at Auburn University,” he said.

It took a special opportunity to attract Derrick Nix from Oxford, Mississippi, where he was well established and highly regarded. For him, Auburn is that opportunity.

“We’re not that far off in my estimation,” Nix said. “Get ready to see some guys who are going to play hard, play disciplined and be exciting to watch.”