By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Days away from beginning a career in law enforcement, Marcus Woodson received a life-changing phone call.
"Just before I was getting ready to go on the job, I was presented the opportunity to go and be the defensive backs coach at Millsaps," said Woodson, Auburn's new assistant coach.
It didn't take long for Woodson to realize his calling.
"My first day on the job, I knew that this was what I was born to do," he said.
Woodson steadily climbed the coaching ladder, from Division III Millsaps to Charleston Southern, Fresno State and Memphis.
A defensive back at Ole Miss, from 1999-2003, Woodson's football knowledge and leadership impressed his coaches.
"Those guys always told me I was a coach on the field," he said. "Once they knew that I couldn't play anymore because of my injuries, they advised me to try coaching and see what it was like."
Woodson discovered his passion for the sport aligned perfectly with his desire to mentor those who play it.
"The relationships, No. 1," he said. "Having a chance to impact kids and help them achieve the goals they have in front of them. I've been around football my entire life. I couldn't live without it.
"To be an influence to the next generation, and be able to do what I have a passion for at the same time is a dream come true for me, especially at a university like Auburn. To know the winning tradition at this university, and to finally be a part of it, I'm very fortunate."
Woodson eagerly accepted Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's offer to be Auburn's 10th on-field assistant, coaching defense on the plains.
"No. 1, it started with Coach Malzahn, and the staff that he's been able to assemble here at Auburn, and the relationships within the staff," Woodson said. "That was No. 1. The next thing was, it's Auburn. This is one of the top programs in the country.
"The opportunity to be part of a winning tradition and the history that has gone on here at the university was something that was hard to say no to. I'm excited to be a part of the next step that we're about to take as a program."
With his political science degree, Woodson plans to prepare Auburn's student-athletes to succeed in all areas.
"To help them become better young men who are in a position, with or without football, to be successful," said Woodson, who coached defensive backs at Memphis the past two seasons. "To be able to achieve all of the goals they have in front of them, athletically, academically, in life in general. The main thing is to leave here a better person.
"I want guys who want to play in the NFL. I want to develop them and be a part of their process to help them get there."
Woodson wants to do his part to attract student-athletes with professional aspirations.
"Great players make great coaches," he said. "Recruiting is something I have a passion for, something that I enjoy doing. What I want to do is get with the staff and identify the right young men who can help us take the next step as far as their ability.
"And then find the right character young men who can come in here and represent this football program and the university off the field just as well as they do on the field. My No. 1 thing is, we want to go out and find the top football players in the country, and get them here to Auburn so we can take that next step."
Describing himself as approachable, Woodson looks forward to moving to Auburn soon with his wife, Chastity, and their boys, 4-year-old Carter, 6-month-old Bryce.
"At the end of the day, we're all a family, and we're going to do what's best to help this football team be successful."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer