After more than a month spent without a wide receivers coach, Florida coach Jim McElwain announced that he'd found his man in Florida International running backs coach on Twitter Tuesday morning:
McElwain had more to say in a GatorZone release:
"Kerry is a young, energetic, up-and-coming coach," said McElwain. "He has strong recruiting ties throughout the state and as a former offensive coordinator he will bring value to the offensive game plan."
Dixon, like McElwain, has history in Montana: He was Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Brian Wright's running backs coach at Montana State in 2010 and 2011. But, more importantly, he's got recent history in South Florida: Dixon moved to Florida Atlantic in 2012, and helped a stable of backs approximate the production of Alfred Morris (this is purportedly an achievement, according to Dixon's FIU bio, then helped the Owls gain 2,190 yards on the ground — a bump of more than 800 yards on their 2012 total.
Dixon's coaching job in 2014 may have been his best. FIU was one of just four teams nationally to gain fewer than 1,000 rushing yards in 2013, and ranked dead last among the nation's 125 teams in yards per carry. With Dixon in 2014, the Golden Panthers upped that number by more than 50 percent, gaining more than 1,500 yards, and had three running backs gain more than 4.2 yards per carry on at least 55 carries after having no players average better than 4.0 YPC in 2013.
This would be well and good if Dixon were being hired as Florida's running backs coach, but it's unclear how that prowess and experience translates to coaching wide receivers, something Dixon has apparently never done at the . He was an offensive coordinator and, as 75 South notes, wide receivers coach at Division II Stillman in 2009, according to his FAU bio, had been a quarterbacks coach at two FCS schools prior to that, and played both quarterback and wide receiver in his own college career, but that job versatility has never before extended to tutoring wideouts at the Division I level.
I've generally liked McElwain's hires, and the grades I'm going to give them — that piece is coming later this week, now that we have a full complement of coaches to evaluate — will be generally good. But even without comparing him to some of the more accomplished candidates for the job that surfaced throughout Florida's search, Dixon seems likely to receive a middling grade at best.