As Derrick Nix stepped on the turf at M.M. Roberts Stadium, he reminisced about his first USM touchdown.
"Right in that corner over there," Nix said, pointing to the corner of the north end zone. "I think the guy had me by the face mask. And I drug him in the end zone."
Now as a senior, a new opponent is using more than a face mask to bring down the man they call the Baby Bull. In the next six months, Nix needs a kidney transplant. Otherwise, he'll remain on dialysis.
"Like I said earlier, with so many people that care about you, so many people who are pulling for you, you can't help but make it through it," he said.
When he ran down the field, Derrick Nix helped USM and its fans win football games. Now fans can help Nix. Insurance won't cover all his medical expenses. So USM established a fund to offset the costs Nix will incur as he fights his kidney disease.
His father Preston Nix attended a news conference where USM announced plans for the medical fund.
"Nothing warms my heart any more than to know I have a university that cares about my children," the elder Nix said.
Two children from Sacred Heart Elementary School in Hattiesburg made the first contribution -- $405 and two big hugs for the ailing running back.
Richard Giannini is USM's Athletic Director.
"We have one of our family that is in need," Giannini told the media. "We're going to take care of our family. We're going to help Derrick Nix."
Back on the football field, Nix had mixed emotions about his predicament.
"I'm glad I played here," he said as he crossed the 20 yard line. "But just real sad I won't be able to come out here and play again. It will never be the same."
If he can get a kidney transplant, and if his health improves, Nix has an invitation to join the USM coaching staff. The Baby Bull can't wait for the opportunity to roam the sidelines again.
"Once an eagle, always an eagle," he said. "I'll just soar a different way now."
If you'd like to help Derrick Nix offset some of his medical costs after the kidney transplant, you can make a donation to USM's Student Athlete Medical Fund, P.O. Box 15458, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 35404.