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RUSSELLVILLE, Arkansas – Arkansas Tech Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Steve Mullins has recently announced several changes to his coaching staff for the coming season.

nixonMullins announced the promotions of assistant coach Jo Nixon to defensive coordinator and graduate assistant and former Wonder Boy Matt Kitchens to linebackers coach.

Nixon, who came to Tech last summer from Stillman College as the defensive secondary coach, takes over as the Wonder Boys defensive coordinator after former coordinator Jeff Byrd stepped down to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee-Martin and Kitchens becomes a full time assistant after working with the linebackers as a graduate assistant coach the past two seasons.

"Jo has a wealth of experience and I have full confidence that we will have an aggressive, smart defense," Mullins said.

Nixon will be serving as a defensive coordinator for the third time in his collegiate coaching career as he served as the defensive coordinator in 2009 at Alabama State University and spent three seasons (2006-08) as the defensive coordinator at Langston University.

"I am excited about this opportunity to serve as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas Tech University," Nixon said. "I am grateful to Coach (Steve) Mullins for granting me this chance and I'm ready for the challenge."

Nixon, who has spent 11 years coaching in the collegiate ranks, will bring a different look to the Wonder Boys defense.

"I expect us to be a more attacking unit and use more multiple fronts than we have the past couple of seasons," kitchenssaid Nixon, who was a member of Florida State's 1993 National Championship team. "I am excited about all the work our returning players are putting in this offseason and I'm equally enthusiastic about our newcomers."

Meanwhile, Kitchens, who earned four letters as a linebacker at Tech from 2006-09, will take over the linebacking coaching duties after assisting Byrd with them the past two seasons in his role as a graduate assistant.

"I really like to say thanks to Coach Mullins for having the confidence in my coaching abilities and I'm grateful for the challenge," Kitchens said. "This is a dream opportunity for me to be able to coach at my alma mater in my hometown."

In his four years as a Wonder Boy, Kitchens played in 42 games and made 20 starts and recorded 211 total tackles, including 104 solo stops. In addition, Kitchens, who was an All-State selection and a two-time Class 5A All-Conference selection at Russellville High School, had 14.0 tackles for 46 yards in losses, had one sack, forced three fumbles, recovered four fumbles and picked off one passes. As a senior in 2009, Kitchens recorded 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and a sack to help lead the Wonder Boys to a 9-3 overall record and a second round appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

"It is pleasing to promote one of 'our own'," Mullins said. "Matt bleeds Green and Gold and through his hard work and dedication has earned him this position."

Mullins, Nixon and Kitchens and the rest of the Wonder Boys coaching staff will begin spring football practice on March 28. 

-- Tech Athletics --

Transactions: Arkansas Tech University promotes Jo Nixon to defensive coordinator and Matt Kitchens to linebackers coach.