Auburn coach Gus Malzahn spent plenty of his time leading up to spring practice hiring new coaches. It went beyond filling five high-profile assistant vacancies with Auburn needing a new group of graduate assistants and analysts.
On Tuesday, Malzahn announced his finalized staff for 2016 in a press conference hours before the team’s first practice. Malzahn also detailed a number of injuries impacting the team and discussed some recent roster moves.
“I’m very excited about our staff this year,” Malzahn said. “Coach Steele and our defensive staff have really jelled. They’re doing a great job of working together and are excited to get out on the field and coach our defensive guys. Our offensive staff – I’m very excited about this group. It’s very unique – each one of our offensive coaches has an expertise in what we’re doing.”
Auburn’s four graduate assistants include former Central quarterback Jonathan Wallace, former offensive coordinator at Hewitt-Trussville Austin Tucker, former Auburn defensive lineman Craig Sanders and former Purdue running back Ishmael Aristide.
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The Tigers head into 2016 with three analysts on each side of the ball. The offensive analysts are Jonny Brewer, Jeff Norrid and Eric Munoz. The defensive analysts are Rob Coleman, Brandon Whelan and Devin Dakota.
Brewer was a graduate assistant for the last three seasons at Auburn.
“We really feel strong about having somebody who can really help our new GAs – we think he’ll do a good job with that,” Malzahn said.
Dakota is one of the only hires that had no previous connection to Malzahn or Auburn. Dakota previously worked under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and will be the former LSU assistant’s “right hand man” this season.
The number of hires linked to Malzahn as a former player or colleague isn’t an accident.
“As far as being comfortable and having guys that have been with you, I think there’s great value to that, guys that know how you operate and played in your system,” Malzahn said. “A lot of the guys have been with me for a long time. I think there’s something to that. It’s a comfort. Like I said earlier, our offense is unique. The more expertise that you have doing something is nothing but a positive. I’m very excited about this offensive staff and very comfortable.”