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Auburn secondary needs to ‘embrace change’ with McGriff departing

Auburn defensive back Josh Holsey is providing guidance to the team's young secondary about going through a change in position coaches.
Auburn defensive back Josh Holsey is providing guidance to the team's young secondary about going through a change in position coaches. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn defensive back Josh Holsey laughed when he heard the list of position coaches — five in five years — he’s played for recited back to him Monday afternoon.

“Wow, that is a long list,” Holsey said with a grin.

It would have been even longer had Ole Miss kept Wes McGriff from staying with Auburn through the Sugar Bowl.

McGriff signed a three-year deal late last week to become the Rebels new defensive coordinator.

With Ole Miss failing to secure bowl eligibility, coach Hugh Freeze accommodated Auburn’s request to keep McGriff on the Plains for a few extra weeks.

“It was big,” Holsey said. “I felt it was big for us. He’s always been one of those guys where he doesn’t leave unless the job is done. He harps on finishing the job so that was kind of big for us for him to stay and coach us for the next few weeks and get some knowledge out of him while we have him around before he goes.”

Auburn played last year’s Birmingham Bowl with graduate assistant Blake Gideon coaching the secondary after Travaris Robinson left the program to join Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina.

McGriff’s continued presence gives Auburn’s young secondary — six of the 10 defenders are underclassmen — extra time to process the change.

“We’re happy for him,” Holsey said. “Nobody is too down. You can’t pass up an opportunity like that to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC so everybody is happy.”

Holsey is one of the veterans in the room helping prepare the group for the upcoming transition.

“They are embracing it and they’re going to just get ready to come back and keep working,” Holsey said. “That’s kind of the message I told them. You can’t really harp on it but just keep getting prepared for whoever comes in.”

The high turnover wasn’t an ideal situation for Holsey, but it made him a better player. His advice for his younger teammates is to accept that change is “part of life.”

“You've got to embrace change,” Holsey said. “Things happen and you just got to be able to embrace change and be ready to roll with whoever comes in and pick up on whatever they like. You've got to do what they like. If they want things done their certain ways, that's just how things go. I'm used to it so it was no big deal for me."

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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