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Smith: 'A tremendous opportunity'

AUBURN - Calling it "a tremendous opportunity," veteran defensive back coach Melvin Smith was officially named today as the sixth member of first-year Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn's staff.

Smith, who has 18 years of Southeastern Conference coaching experience, has spent the past seven seasons coaching cornerbacks and the secondary at Mississippi State. The move was first reported by AuburnUndercover.com.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to work for Coach Malzahn and Auburn,” Smith said. “I’ve admired Gus’ work from afar and have always loved his offenses. When we discussed this job, Gus told me that he was looking for men of character and integrity who were excellent coaches. When I saw who he hired to his staff, and having worked previously with Ellis (Johnson), Charlie (Harbison) and J.B. (Grimes), I knew that’s exactly the type of men he was hiring. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family.”

Malzahn welcomed Smith to the defensive staff headed by coordinator Ellis Johnson.

“Melvin is an outstanding secondary coach and is one of the top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference,” Malzahn said. “He has a reputation for his ability to develop players, and his 31-year coaching resume speaks for itself. We’re excited to have Melvin join our staff.”

Smith, who has coached cornerbacks for MSU since 2007 after coaching the entire secondary in 2006, mentored Jonathan Banks who won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. Banks was also a Walter Camp All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection.

This past season, Smith helped a Bulldogs defense that had 30 takeaways, which led the SEC and was 12th nationally. Darius Slay, a second-team All-SEC pick, tied for the league lead in interceptions with five, while Banks was tied for third in the league with four.

In 2009, Smith guided a young group, yet the Bulldog secondary led the SEC with 17 interceptions. Led by then-freshman Corey Broomfield’s six picks, the corners improved as the season progressed. For his efforts, Broomfield was named Freshman All-Southeastern Conference. In 2011, Smith continued to tutor Broomfield and Banks, who developed into an All-SEC performer and was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.

Smith returned to Mississippi State in 2006 after spending time at both Alabama and Texas A&M. In just his second season back at MSU, Smith helped the Bulldogs’ pass defense rank fourth in the SEC, allowing just 182.2 yards per game, sixth in pass efficiency defense (114.8). The Bulldogs improved their interception total from 12 to 15.

A native of Taylorsville, Miss., who grew up in Magee, Miss., Smith was an assistant football coach at Mississippi State for seven years (1995-2001), helping guide the Bulldogs through the greatest period in the school’s football history.

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