Former Etowah standout Nix honored by USM

Derrick NixDerrick Nix

Former Etowah High School football star Derrick Nix recently was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame. 

The son of Rev. and Mrs. Preston Nix of Attalla, Derrick played football at Etowah High School, where he earned All-County honors as a Blue Devil running back. He currently is in his fourth year as an assistant football coach at Southern Mississippi, where he coaches the running backs. Derrick’s brother Tyrone, an EHS graduate who is the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State University, previously was inducted into the M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame

The following introduction was offered at the time of Derrick’s induction.

“He was named The Baby Bull and few players in the history of Southern Miss football had the hard-charging, determined and skillful ability running the football or playing the game of football like Derrick Nix, who played for the Golden Eagles from 1998 to 2002. He was without question one of the most dominating running backs in the history of the school and one of its finest overall football players and his game-changing abilities helped to etch his name in the Southern Mississippi record book.

“What made Derrick Nix unique is that he had the heart of a champion, and on many nights when the going got tough, he would seemingly hoist the Golden Eagles on his back and carry them to victory. Sometimes it was with a dazzling, jaw-dropping run that left tacklers on the ground and other nights it was three-yards and a cloud of dust, with Derrick grinding out yardage carry after carry to pick up another first down. Whatever it took, Derrick Nix was ready to do it, because he had a love for the game and a love for his teammates and he was determined to never let them down. And he didn’t.

“Few players have ever played with the fire and determination of Derrick Nix. That fire and his ability to overcome whatever obstacles were placed before him earned him a place in the Hall of Fame.

“Derrick Nix finished his career at Southern Mississippi with 768 carries for 3,584 yards and 30 touchdowns. He led the Golden Eagles in rushing as a freshman in 1998 with 1,180 yards and followed that up with 1,154 as a sophomore. 

Battling injuries, Derrick returned for the 2002 season and rushed for career high 1,194-yeards. He was also a talented pass receiver and was utilized in that role by Coach Jeff Bower and his coaching staff.

“Derrick was named to the Conference USA Team of the Decade as a running back in 2006 and is a member of the Southern Miss Legends Club. He was the 1998 Conference USA Freshman of the year and was named to the all-freshman team in 1998. Derrick also earned first team all-Conference USA honors in 1998 and 2002, while earning 2nd-team accolades in 1999. He was named to The Sporting News Freshman All-American team in 1998.

“Derrick Nix rushed for a career high 219 yards against Nevada as a freshman in 1998 and 201 yards against Nevada in 2002. He finished his career with 14 games of over 100-yards rushing.

“Derrick underwent a kidney transplant that put aside a chance to play professional football, but I have no doubt he would have become one of the premier backs in the NFL.

“How much fun it would be to watch The Baby Bull rumble down the field one more time, but instead we get a chance to rumble into the company of his peers.”

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