SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE ATHLETICS) — Jeff Nixon, a 27-year coaching veteran at the collegiate and professional levels, has been tapped to be Syracuse’s Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs Coach by head coach Fran Brown.
Nixon, who currently is serving as the running backs coach for the New York Giants, boasts 14 seasons in the NFL across five franchises, with collegiate stops at Baylor and Temple, among others.
“I’m beyond blessed and ecstatic to be coaching at the prestigious Syracuse University,” Nixon said. “I want to thank Coach Fran Brown and the rest of the Syracuse athletic administration for this once in a lifetime opportunity for my family and I. Can’t wait to get started. Go Cuse!”
In his first season with the Giants, he has helped Saquon Barkley to be fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game, among players who have played in five-or-more games, despite the star back missing three games this year. Before joining New York, he spent the previous three seasons on the Carolina Panthers’ staff in various roles, including serving as offensive coordinator in the final five games of the 2021 season.
“Jeff Nixon is very intelligent, we got a chance to work together at Baylor and some of our best years on offense were with him. He really knows how to score,” Brown said. “He’s an offensive mind, period, he knows how to coach every position. He’s coached special teams, running backs and tight ends in the NFL and has coached nearly every position there is. He knows how to score from all areas. If you go and watch him, he’s good in the red zone, he’s good in open field and backed up coming out. He’s a real competitive guy. I’m happy to call him a friend, but I’m also happy that he decided to come and work here.”
Last season, Nixon was the Panthers’ assistant head coach. The team finished 10th in the NFL in rushing yardage (130.0 yards per game), despite the midseason trade of star running back Christian McCaffrey. D’Onta Foreman led the franchise with a team-high 914 yards.
He coached running backs the prior two seasons in Carolina. With McCaffrey limited to 10 total games due to injury over that span, he mentored rookie Chuba Hubbard to lead the Panthers in rushing in 2021 with 612 yards and five touchdowns. In 2020, he helped Mike Davis have a career-best season, topping 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first time and notch a team-high eight total touchdowns.
Nixon joined the Panthers after a three-year stint as Baylor’s co-Offensive Coordinator and play caller. In 2019, the Bears finished with an 11-win season, an appearance in the Big XII Championship game and Allstate Sugar Bowl. While running the offense, the unit averaged 431.2 yards per game and ranked 17th nationally in scoring offense (35.2 points per game).
The prior season, Baylor finished 22nd in the FBS in total offense (459.1 yards per game). His first season in Waco saw Baylor finish in the top-25 in passing offense, averaging 280 yards per game. Quarterback Charlie Brewer earned Big XII Freshman Offensive Player of the Year under Nixon’s guidance, starting a career that saw him finish second all-time at Baylor in career passing yards.
Baylor also hsd a pair of offensive players drafted in his tenure. Wide receiver Jalen Hurd was taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by San Francisco and fellow receiver Denzel Mims was selected in the second round a year later by the Jets. Wide receiver Tyquan Thorton (2022 – second round – Patriots) and Trestan Ebner (2022 – sixth round – Bears) also played the first half of their careers under Nixon before being drafted.
Before returning to college football in 2017, Nixon spent 11 consecutive years in the NFL. In 2016, he coached tight ends for the 49ers. From 2011-15, he coached the Dolphins’ running backs, working with Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi, among others. Bush’s best NFL season came under Nixon in 2011, when he ran for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns. Three years later, he helped Miller run for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns, while the Dolphins ranked second in the NFL in yards per carry (4.69).
His time in Miami came after a four-year stint coaching in Philadelphia, working with both the Eagles’ offense and special teams units. He worked closely with All-Pro running backs Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, as well as All-Pro fullback Leonard Weaver. On special teams, Nixon helped DeSean Jackson become one of the NFL’s top return men. In three of his four seasons in Philly, the Eagles reached the playoffs, including an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2008.
Before his NFL tenure, Nixon had stops at Temple (2006), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (2003-05), Shippensburg (1999-02) and Princeton (1998). He served as the running backs coach at each stop, adding tight ends and special teams in his stop at Chattanooga. While with the Mocs, he helped develop Eldra Buckley into an All-American before his five-year NFL career. He also mentored eventual All-Pro fullback John Kuhn at Shippensburg.
Nixon began his coaching career at Penn State in 1997 as a student assistant. A native of New Brighton, Pa. and State College, Pa., Nixon played running back for two seasons at West Virginia (1993-94), before transferring to Penn State, where he earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Academic Team. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State in 1998 in elementary education and a master’s degree in education administration from Shippensburg in 2003.
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