STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/Commercial Dispatch) — Melvin Smith spent Christmas packing up his belongings and moving to another Southeastern Conference school.
Smith, the Mississippi State University football team’s cornerbacks coach from 2006-12, accepted the same position at Auburn University under new coach Gus Malzahn.
Auburn Undercover, a 247sports.com affiliate, first reported the news. The Auburn athletic department later confirmed the report. Malzahn mentioned Smith’s reputation as a recruiter and as a talent developer at the secondary spot as the main reasons he wanted to make Smith his fourth assistant on his coaching staff.
Smith was a semifinalist in 2011 for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach. He helped lead a defensive backfield that had 16 interceptions this season. Malzahn coaching staff will feature four former MSU assistants, including Ellis Johnson, secondary coach Charlie Harbison, and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes.
“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to work for coach Malzahn and Auburn,” Smith said in Auburn’s university release. “When we discussed this job, Gus told me 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 was the type of men he was hiring. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family.”
Johnthan Banks, one of Smith’s recruits four years ago, won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award earlier this month , which goes to the nation’s top defensive back. Banks, a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft in April, has four interceptions this season. MSU senior cornerback Darius Slay, who was named to second-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches, is tied for the SEC lead with five interceptions.
“Melvin is an outstanding secondary coach and is one of the top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference,” Malzahn said in a statement. “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 worked at MSU for seven years (1995-2001) under coach Jackie Sherrill. He returned to Starkville for a second time in 2006 to be a member of Sylvester Croom’s coaching staff. Dan Mullen retained Smith after Croom resigned after the 2008 season.
“Melvin is an outstanding secondary coach and is one of top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference,” Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said Tuesday on Twitter.
Smith, a 31-year veteran, spent one year at the University of Alabama (2002) before spending three seasons at Texas A&M University (2003-05) as a safeties coach. He also coached at the University of Mississippi (1992-94) and at Delta State University (1990-91). He began his coaching career at Greenwood High School (1982-89).
As accordance with school policy, MSU didn’t release any information about Smith’s departure or a coaching vacancy on the football team. MSU players and coaches are expected to report today to Jacksonville, Fla., to begin preparations for the Gator Bowl against Northwestern University at 11 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013 (ESPN2). Smith isn’t expected to coach in the Gator Bowl.