Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chizik rounds out coaching staff

More than two months after Auburn hired Gene Chizik, the Tigers football coach finished compiling his staff.

Sunday, Chizik officially filled his final two staff openings with Phillip Lolley and Tommy Thigpen, both of whom will coach the secondary.

Lolley’s transition should be the easiest among the coaching staff. He coached Auburn’s secondary from 2002-03 when Chizik coordinated the defense. Lolley also spent the last five years as Auburn’s director of NFL relations.

“I coached side-by-side with Phillip when I was defensive coordinator at Auburn and it was very evident that he’s a great coach,” Chizik said. “He’s been successful at every level and he will also be a valuable asset because of his strong relationships with high school programs and coaches in the state of Alabama.”

Lolley first made a name for himself during his 22-year high school coaching career in Alabama.
He helped Auburn sign this year’s recruiting class while Chizik meticulously started to put together his coaching staff.

“It was a great experience working with Coach Chizik during his previous tenure at Auburn,” Lolley said. “He had the nation’s top defense in 2004 and I look forward to working with Ted Roof to help return the Auburn defense to one of the best in the country. I’m pleased to be back on the field as part of the Auburn family and am very excited to start back recruiting the great state of Alabama.”

While Lolley is a familiar name around the Auburn program, Thigpen comes to the Plains from North Carolina where he spent the previous four seasons as the UNC linebackers coach.
Thigpen has made a name for himself as a top recruiter. ranked him as one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters in 2007.

“Tommy has had a tremendous amount of success at every stop he’s made as an assistant coach,” Chizik said. “I’ve been well aware of him since his days as a standout player at North Carolina and have followed his professional career very closely. I’m extremely pleased to be adding someone with his professionalism and coaching expertise to this staff.”

Though Thigpen coached linebackers at North Carolina, he will coach the secondary at Auburn.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof will coach linebackers.

Thigpen previously served as Illinois’ cornerbacks coach in 2003 before coaching the Illini’s linebackers the following year. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work at a tradition-rich program like Auburn and for an outstanding coach in Gene Chizik,” Thigpen said. “It was a tough decision to leave my alma mater, but this is a great step for me professionally. I’ve known Ted Roof from his days in the ACC and played for (former UNC and current Texas head coach) Mack Brown, so I’m very familiar with the outstanding coaches that are in place at Auburn. I can’t wait to get started and look forward to joining the Auburn family.”

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