Friday, December 26, 2008

Willis retained

It's been 13 days since Auburn officially hired Gene Chizik as its next head football coach.
Finally, Chizik has an assistant coach. And it's a familiar name -- James Willis.
When Chizik met the staff on Dec. 14, he told each coach to find different jobs. Willis, who has been Auburn's linebackers coach for three seasons, was renamed to the Auburn coaching staff on Friday.
Auburn announced that Willis, along with football support members Kevin Yoxall, Jimmy Perry, Phillip Lolley and Rev. Chette Williams, have all been retained on staff. Yoxall, Lolley and Williams have been at Auburn since 1999. Perry joined the staff in 2000.
Yoxall is the strength and conditioning coach, Perry is the director of football operations, Lolley is the director of NFL relations and Williams is the team chaplain.
Willis became the first assistant coach on Chizik's staff. He has been known as a strong recruiter, especially in Mobile and was one of several of Tommy Tuberville's assistants who stayed on to recruit after Tuberville resigned.
Willis' prize recruit, quarterback Raymond Cotton, withdrew his commitment to Auburn after Chizik's decision not to retain Willis.
“James is a tremendous coach and an outstanding recruiter,” Chizik said through a University-released statement. “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 coachthat relates well with the student-athletes.”
Willis worked under Chizik as a student assistant and as a graduate assistant during two of Chizik's three years as the Tigers defensive coordinator.

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