New FAU running backs coach Kerry Dixon started two games as a true freshman quarterback at Baylor. (OwlAccess.com photo)
Kerry the ball
Meet The New Staff: After following Brian Wright from Montana State to Boca Raton, Kerry Dixon says he intends to teach FAU running backs to learn the game like they were quarterbacks.
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Kerry Dixon found a new employer in January without having to adapt to a new boss.
The Owls new running backs coach held the same position at Montana St. last year, where Brian Wright was his offensive coordinator.
When new FAU head coach Carl Pelini hired Wright to be the Owls' new offensive coordinator, Wright suggested adding Dixon to the staff, too.
“I knew I wanted the offensive coordinator to have input on who the coaches were,” Pelini said. “Brian was right. (Dixon) is everything Brian said he would be. Watching those two operate together, I can see why Brian felt very strongly about having him.”
Dixon said he was surprised and excited when he got the call to come to Boca Raton. He didn't have much trouble adapting to his new environment.
“I'll tell you my secret: When I first take a job, I wear nothing but that school's colors and that school's name just to get used to it,” Dixon said. “That works for me every time.”
Dixon is entering his third year as a running backs coach, but prefers to draw on his experience as a quarterback when teaching players.
After graduating high school in Texas, Dixon chose to play at Baylor where he started two games under center as a true freshman. He moved to wide receiver as a sophomore, and played both positions in his final two years after transferring to Hampton.
“I teach them like quarterbacks,” Dixon said. “I get a chance to teach them in-depth, stuff. We get to learn the whole game, then either you can do it or you can't do it – it's up to your ability.”
Of all the position coaches, Dixon may have the biggest shoes to fill. His task is finding the replacement for Alfred Morris, the Owls' all-time leading rusher who was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the NFL's draft a few months back.
Luckily for Dixon, there appears to be many capable ball carriers ready to take their shot. Sleek backs Travis Jones and Damian Fortner have been waiting a couple years for their turns to carry the ball. Walk-on Jonathan Wallace was a revelation during spring practices. And junior college transfer Martese Jackson is expected to vie for playing time in the fall.
“These guys showed me enough to where I am comfortable with these guys,” Dixon said. “(Jackson's) just the next piece of the puzzle. He's going to come in and push these guys which is great. And he's going to push for a starting spot. Who's going to start? I have no idea.”
Regardless of who ultimately becomes the starter, the transition from the old coaching regime to the new one doesn't appear to have been difficult for most of the backs.
“My understanding is that (former running backs coach David Serna) was tough on them and I am tough on them, so we are similar in that way,” Dixon said.