AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gene Chizik began assembling his coaching staff on Friday, retaining linebackers coach James Willis and several key support staff members.
Willis has been at his alma mater as linebackers coach since 2006 and has helped coach two defenses ranked in the Top 10 nationally in points allowed.
“James is a tremendous coach and an outstanding recruiter,” Chizik said. “I had the opportunity to work with him while I was defensive coordinator at Auburn and it was apparent to me then that James was going to be very successful at this level. He is a high-energy coach that relates well with the student-athletes.”
The two worked together when Willis was a student assistant and graduate assistant and Chizik was the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.
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Chizik, who was hired on Dec. 13, is also keeping strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall, director of football operations Jimmy Perry, director of NFL relations Phillip Lolley and team chaplain Rev. Chette Williams. Chizik’s most immediate priority after leaving Iowa State to take the Auburn job was on shoring up the recruiting class.
Willis, a Huntsville native, worked with linebackers at Temple and Rhode Island before returning to Auburn. The Tigers finished seventh nationally in scoring defense in 2006 and sixth a year later.
Yoxall, Lolley and Williams have been with Auburn since 1999 under coach Tommy Tuberville. Perry joined the Auburn football program in 2000.