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Ole Miss football fills coaching voids on offense

Ole Miss FB
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss has officially filled two vacancies on the offensive side of its football coaching staff.

Head coach Lane Kiffin, following the departures of Derrick Nix and John David Baker, has hired two power-five conference assistants to come to Oxford.

George McDonald, formerly at Illinois, has been named wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator, while Joe Cox, who most recently worked under Nick Saban at Alabama, joins the Rebels and will coach tight ends.

While operating as wide receivers coach in Champaign, McDonald helped Illinois to one of its best seasons in over a decade in 2022, earning a trip to the ReliaQuest Bowl — the Illini’s first January bowl game in 15 years. The Illini were ranked in the AP Top 25 for five straight weeks and were ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time in school history.

George McDonald
George McDonald
(photo courtesy of Illinois Athletics)

In 2023, Illinois finished top five in the Big Ten in passing, total yards, and scoring, and led the western side of the division in all three categories.

Prior to Illinois, McDonald served in a variety of roles at North Carolina State. His six-year stint with the Wolfpack began in 2015 as wide receivers coach (2015-20) as his his role expanded to passing game coordinator (2017-18, 2020), recruiting coordinator (2019-20), co-offensive coordinator (2019), and assistant head coach (2020).

McDonald graduated from Buena Park High School in California before his collegiate career at Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree in health planning and administration from Illinois in 1999.

Cox, a Georgia letter-winner and former quarterback for the Bulldogs, comes to Ole Miss after spending the last two seasons under college football’s most accomplished head coach.

In 2023, Cox’s tight ends unit was led by Amari Niblack, who tallied 20 receptions for 327 yards and four touchdowns. In his first year, he helped redshirt senior Cameron Latu reach new heights for the Alabama offense with a career-high 30 receptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns.

Prior to his time in Tuscaloosa, Cox spent one season coaching tight ends for his hometown Charlotte 49ers.

Joe Cox
Joe Cox
(photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics)

Cox spent the 2020 season coaching wide receivers on Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina. USC’s receivers were led by Shi Smith who hauled in 57 receptions for 644 yards and a team-high four touchdowns in only nine games.

Before South Carolina, Cox spent five years at Colorado State on the staff beginning as a graduate assistant in 2015 and then coaching tight ends for three seasons (2016-18) and wide receivers in his final year in Fort Collins in 2019.

While operating as Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2009, Cox completed 185 of 331 pass attempts for 2,584 yards and 24 touchdowns — at the time the second-best single-season total in Bulldogs’ history.

“We are continuing to elevate our coaching staff to a championship caliber with the addition of Coach McDonald and Coach Cox to our staff,” Kiffin said. “Both coaches have been a part of innovative and productive offenses in their careers, and they have proven their ability to recruit and develop talented players at an elite level.”

After 16 years of coaching in various positions for the Rebels, Nix left Oxford for the plains to serve as former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze’s offensive coordinator at Auburn. Baker, after three seasons as Ole Miss’ tight ends coach, took a promotion to be the offensive coordinator at East Carolina.

Ole Miss will kick off the 2024 season at home against Furman on Saturday, August 31.

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