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Good guys, good place: Wesley McGriff home at Auburn
March 31, 2016

Wesley McGriff says he's happy to be coaching at Auburn
Wesley McGriff says he's happy to be coaching at Auburn

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Wesley McGriff says there was one university he never liked recruiting against.

"It was Auburn."

Then it's a good thing McGriff doesn't have to recruit against Auburn anymore, now that he's the secondary coach for the Tigers after Gus Malzahn hired away from the New Orleans Saints in January. McGriff comes from the NFL, but he recruited against Auburn when he was at Kentucky, Miami, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

He figured joining Auburn was better than fighting Auburn.

"When I received the phone call to interview for this opportunity it was a blessing," McGriff said. "I had always heard great things about Coach Malzahn, and just to have an opportunity to be his on his staff is phenomenal.

"Just to have an opportunity to be considered to join the staff makes you feel good. When I got the final call that I was definitely the guy he wanted to join the staff, I went from feeling good to feeling great."

McGriff is in the midst of his first Auburn spring practice as the Tigers march toward their A-Day Game in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 3 p.m. on April 9. He says he's already in a good place, starting with defensive coaches meeting room.

"We have good guys, like Travis Williams. He's young in the profession and he's an outstanding person," McGriff said. "Rodney Garner has been doing it for such a long time. What a professional coach he is. Coach Kevin Steele and I have been knowing each other for a long time. It's just the quality of people sitting in the room. They made the transition really fun.

"There's a lot of knowledge in that room. There are no egos in that room."

McGriff comes to Auburn after coaching the last three seasons in the NFL. That brings a lot of cache' to the job, especially with current players and on the recruiting trail.

"It comes up daily almost," McGriff said. "At the end of the day, that's the highest level, and every young man wants to get to the highest level. When you have experience in that arena, that really helps you understand what it takes to get a young man to that level."

McGriff said the biggest difference in coaching in the NFL and coaching in college is the time he can spend with his players.

"In the National Football League, all those players do is play football. They're very detailed. It's essentially their job on whether they provide for their families and pay their bills," McGriff said. "You have unlimited time with those guys. At the collegiate level you have to balance academics, their social life, with football. These guys aren't quite as mature as NFL players. That's the biggest difference.

But, he added, "I think the desire to be great is the same."

McGriff says his job is to make his players better people as well.

"I love people. I'm a people person," he said. "Our biggest goal is not to send them back home the same way they left. I think my personality is to be in a position to be a change-agent for these young men. That's my greatest strength."

One of his weaknesses, he said, is "I want my guys to be so good, that sometimes I'm probably a little bit too hard on them. I caution myself against that. I ask my players not to take my coaching too personal." 

McGriff says he's still working on his depth chart heading into a Saturday scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I'm sure we’ll have crystal clear picture of who will trot out there and take the first snap in the game, and we’ll do that collectively as a staff," McGriff said. "But when you look at some of the guys that line up now on the outside position — Carlton Davis has been doing a great job in spring ball, Javaris Davis on the other side has been doing a good job and I really like the development of a young guy John Broussard. He’s been doing some really, really good things

"The guy I'm really excited about is Jamel Dean, what a big corner that's explosive with speed. We have some tools on the outside that’s going to give us a chance to line up be able to play man, play zone and be able to keep the football in front of us."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:


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