After Ole Miss safeties coach Jason Jones was relieved of his duties earlier this month, Matt Luke had a vacancy on his staff. It sounds as though he’ll be filling it with a familiar name.
Former Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix is leaving his job at Virginia Tech to returning to Oxford, according to a statement released by Hokies head coach Justin Fuente on Monday.
“Our staff wishes Coach Nix and his family the very best as he returns to the state of Mississippi, a place where his family owns very deep ties,” the statement read. “I certainly understand his desire to return to a place he considers home, as well as the opportunity to once again coach with his brother at Ole Miss.”
Nix and his brother, Derrick, arrived in Oxford in 2008 as part of Houston Nutt’s new staff. Derrick, coaching running backs, has managed to stick around in the decade since, weathering three regime changes. Tyrone was let go alongside Nutt after the 2011 season. He spent four years as the DC at Middle Tennessee State, was an analyst for Texas A&M in 2017 and joined Fuente’s staff in 2018.
Given defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre’s background in coaching the secondary and Charles Clark’s presence on staff as a cornerbacks coach, Luke didn’t need another defensive backs coach to replace Jones. Nix was a safeties coach in Blacksburg, but I expect him to (and FootballScoop confirmed it) lead the outside linebackers group in Oxford (with Jon Sumrall coaching the interior linebackers). Nix has experience coaching defensive line, doing it at Southern Miss and South Carolina, which will come in handy in MacIntyre’s new 3-4 scheme. The Rebels struggled mightily getting pressure on the quarterback in 2018 and Nix LOVES to blitz.
Nix’s first couple years in Oxford produced big results. Loaded with future NFLers like Peria Jerry, Jerrell Powe, Greg Hardy, Kendrick Lewis and Cassius Vaughn, the Rebels climbed into the nation’s top 20 in defensive S&P+ in 2009. But Nix couldn’t make up for the departure of that upperclassmen talent, sliding to 75th in defensive S&P+ in 2010 and 82nd in 2011. Still, those last two years would’ve looked LIGHT YEARS better than the 2018 defense.
Ole Miss national rankings under Nix
As a recruiter, Nix has been pretty darn good at every stop he’s made. Per 247Sports composite rankings, he’s been the primary recruiter responsible for signing four four-stars. At Ole Miss, his best signees included four-stars Patrick Trahan and Emmanuel Stephens and three-stars Woodrow Hamilton and Mike Hilton. His biggest win was helping flip five-star linebacker C.J. Johnson away from Mississippi State in 2011.
Prior to joining the Rebels, Nix ran the defense for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. In 2006, the Gamecocks allowed just 18.7 points per game in 2006 despite returning just one defensive starter from the the year before.
Nix coached up one of the youngest defenses in the country at VT last season. His safeties combined for 124(!) tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups. Middle Tennessee ranked among the nation’s top 25 in the nation in takeaways in Nix’s three seasons running the defense.
Nix, who is a native of Alabama, played linebacker at Southern Miss and served as a defensive assistant coach there from 1995-2004. In 2001, he became the youngest coordinator in Division I football when he was promoted to DC at the ripe age of 29. The Golden Eagles finished in the top 15 nationally in scoring and pass efficiency defense from 2001-2003, leading to Nix becoming a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2003, the distinction handed out to the nation’s best assistant coach.