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Inside The Coaching Staff: Jeff Nixon

Posted Feb 14, 2013

Each member of the Dolphins coaching staff has his own unique story which led him to the NFL. Today we learn how Jeff Nixon went from a hard-nosed type running back to his current position as the Dolphins running backs coach.

What kind of player were you?

“I’d probably say I was more of your rugged, hard-nosed type player. I didn’t have exceptional speed, didn’t have exceptional quickness, but I was dependable. I’d say that would probably be the best word to describe me. I played a little bit of tailback and fullback at West Virginia and Penn State and always held my own when I got a chance to play and played along some other great backs throughout my career.”

What was your career highlight, and why?

“My career highlight was probably my freshman year. I got a chance to play at West Virginia as a true freshman and we went undefeated that year and had a chance to play for the national title. We were 11-0 and played Florida in the Sugar Bowl and unfortunately we lost. If we had won we would have been national champions, but that was a very special year. I was the only freshman that got a chance to play out of our freshman class and that was a special team. We had a lot of nice victories.”

How would you summarize your career?

“I had great experiences. I went to West Virginia my first two years and played as a freshman and sophomore and really enjoyed my time there. I always kind of regretted not going to Penn State right away because I’m from State College, but I ended up transferring back to Penn State and had three great years there playing for Coach Paterno and with my teammates and playing in front of the hometown fans. Playing for Penn State has done wonders for my coaching career as well, so I have no regrets. I learned from great coaches and played with great teammates, so I have no regrets about my college playing career.”

How do you feel your experience as a player has helped you as a coach?

“Experience helps and I was fortunate that I had two great running backs coaches in Larry Holt and then Fran Gannon, the longtime running back coach at Penn State. They taught me a lot and then I learned a lot just from playing the position, the do’s and don’ts, and I think the guys respect for me that because they know where I’m coming from. We can relate well on the field and in meetings.”

Tell us about the lessons you learned from your mother when she made you keep your job at the supermarket.

“I worked at a grocery store for four years and I was fortunate that I had a mom and dad who taught me the value of hard work. Once I turned 15, I worked and worked and when I came back from college I went back there during the summer because I loved the people there. I’d play a high school football game Friday night and be back at work Saturday morning first thing. That just taught me the value of hard work and it helps me now. I’ve got a family with four kids and I’m out here working trying to support them and that was a valuable lesson I learned early on. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to support yourself.”
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