From being high school teammates to college roommates, Jeff Nixon and Matt Rhule go way back. After starting their coaching careers together as unpaid assistants at Penn State and briefly teaming up at Temple, Rhule and Nixon reunited at Baylor, where Nixon served as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Now, Nixon is taking over the running backs in Carolina with one of the league's most dangerous weapons.
Here are three questions with Nixon.
What excites you most about getting to work with a player like Christian McCaffrey?
"I'm very excited to work with Christian. He's an elite player. He's a player that can do it all. Obviously, he can run the football at a high level, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and, surprisingly, when you look at him on film, he's a tremendous blocker as well. He's the total package. He's what you want in your starting running back in the NFL. Very excited to coach him. I've heard about his work ethic going all the way back to when he was in high school. He's just a tremendous kid, tremendous leader, hard worker and I'm hoping to help him reach even higher goals and keep him playing at an elite level."
At what point did you know Matt Rhule was cut out to be an NFL head coach and why were you so intent on reuniting with him?
"I knew early on. Coach Rhule, we go way back. We kind of new at an age early in college that we both wanted to be college coaches. Matt has always been a tremendous leader, very cerebral. I always knew that he would be a head coach at the collegiate level, and then obviously, one of his goals was to be a head coach in the NFL. I knew he'd be able to do that, mainly because of how smart he is, being able to coach all three phases. He's been a coordinator, coached on special teams, defense, offense, so I knew early on when we were in college that he would be a tremendous head coach one day. Fortunately, he gets his first head coaching job in the NFL at a great organization such as the Carolina Panthers. I was really excited to come with him. I jumped at the opportunity to get to coach with one of my best friends. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up."
How would you define your coaching style?
"I coach with a lot of energy. I like to have fun. I believe that we can work extremely hard and we can reach our goals and help the organization win, but we can also have fun. I think I'm very detailed when it comes to our meetings. The guys are going to know exactly what we expect of them and they're going to know their assignments. We'll be able to go out and play great fundamental football and we're going to have fun doing it."