With the Christmas Day announcement of the hiring of Melvin Smith as the cornerbacks coach at Auburn, new Head Coach Gus Malzahn has completed his defensive coaching staff and appears to be making the right moves for his stated goal of “restoring the program to championship level football.”
Smith is a 30 year coaching veteran including stints at Alabama and Texas A&M. Malzahn hired him away from Mississippi State where he spent the last seven years coaching cornerbacks and helping develop one of the best secondary’s in the country. In addition he was a semifinalist in 2011 for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
“We’re excited to have Melvin join our staff,” Malzahn said. “He is an outstanding secondary coach and is one of the top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference. He has a reputation for his ability to develop players and his 31-year coaching resume speaks for itself.
Smith has been responsible for developing all conference players as well as sending several to the professional ranks. He mentored All- American Jonathan Banks who won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back.
This past season, the MSU defense led the SEC with 30 takeaways, which was good enough for 12th place nationally. Darius Slay, a second-team All-SEC pick, finished tied for the SEC lead in interceptions with five, while Banks was tied for third in the league with four. In 2009, the Bulldog secondary led the SEC with 17 interceptions. And Smith’s 2000 secondary intercepted the second-most passes (19) in school history.
Thus far, Malzahn has filled six of the nine positions on his staff. On the offensive side, he still needs to hire coaches for wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. In addition, someone will need to be named as the special teams coordinator.
For a coach that has made his reputation as an offensive mind, Gus Malzahn’s defensive hires have proven he is pretty savvy about what it takes to field a good defense.
Everyone of the new coaches come to Auburn with impressive resumes. They are all great hires but the one that has probably excited the most people has been the return of former Auburn great Rodney Garner as Assistant Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, and Defensive Line Coach.
Known as one of the best recruiters in college football, he is also one of the most widely respected Assistant coaches in the SEC.
Several times in the past decade various schools and NFL teams have tried unsuccessfully to lure Garner away from Athens. Yet Malzahn’s was able to convince the UGA Assistant Head Coach to join him on The Plains.
Rodney said it had to do with two things. One is the opportunity to work with Malzahn and be a part of restoring greatness to the Auburn program. The other, in his words, is because. “I’m an Auburn Man … I probably wouldn’t leave Georgia if it wasn’t for Auburn (but) I bleed Orange and Blue and my school needs me.”
Now that Gus has filled out his defensive staff, look for him to have the entire staff in place by New Year’s and ready to hit the ground running after the dead period on recruiting ends January 3rd.
One of those three offensive hires could come today. The most prevalent name in the rumor mill is Arkansas Running backs Coach, Tim Horton. He has also coached wide receivers before and could be hired to fill that spot.
Horton would seem to fit the mold that Malzahn has established with his first six hires, coaches that have reputations for four things – a proven record of: character, discipline, recruiting, and player development. And that’s just what the Tigers need to restore the program to its familiar place among the league’s best.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, AubTigerman, Auburn blogs, Auburn Tigers Football, Frank Broyles Award, Georgia, Gus Malzahn coaching hires, Jonathan Banks, Melvin Smith leaves Miss State for Auburn, Rodney Garner leaves Georgia for Auburn, Texas A&M, Track 'em Tigers, Will Tim Horton be hired at Auburn