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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Gators add Wesley McGriff to coaching staff

The former Ole Miss defensive coordinator brings 30 years of coaching experience to The Swamp

McGriff’s experience coaching in the defensive backfield will be welcomed as the Gator defense allowed 257 yards per game through the air last season. Photo from UF-Virginia game in December 2019.
McGriff’s experience coaching in the defensive backfield will be welcomed as the Gator defense allowed 257 yards per game through the air last season. Photo from UF-Virginia game in December 2019.

Florida hired Wesley McGriff as an assistant defensive coach, head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday.

McGriff, who served as Auburn’s defensive backs coach for the last two seasons, has 30 years of coaching experience in both the SEC and the NFL. It has yet to be announced what role he will play at Florida.

“His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at every level speaks for itself,” Mullen said in a release. “His energy and tireless effort in recruiting will be an asset to our defensive staff.”

Most recently, McGriff coached two NFL draft picks at Auburn: Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinohene  and Jaguars safety Daniel Thomas who were drafted in the first and fifth round, respectively.. He also helped develop current Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints and groomed pros like former Giants safety Kenny Phillips at Miami, former Patriots defensive back William Andrews at Baylor and former Cardinals first round draft pick Robert Nkemdiche at Ole Miss.

When he arrived at Auburn in 2018, the Tigers allowed 219 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game through the air. In 2019, Auburn improved in yards allowed per game, giving up 214 yards per contest.

Last season, during an all-SEC schedule, Auburn had the third-best pass defense in the conference allowing an average of 237.8 yards per game. According to SEC StatCat, Auburn was also third in the conference in stifling yards per pass, only allowing 6.19 per attempt, 0.28 behind No. 1 Alabama. 

McGriff began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Savannah State, in 1990. After stops at Kentucky State and Eastern Kentucky, McGriff made his way to the SEC, coaching Kentucky’s secondary and running backs from 2001-2002. Kentucky would be the first of five schools he coached in the conference.

After stints at Baylor and Miami, McGriff returned to the SEC as Vanderbilt’s recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2011. A year later, he became the co-defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. 

McGriff took his talents to the big leagues in 2013 and was hired as defensive backs coach for the  Saints. He spent three seasons in New Orleans before heading back to the college sphere, coaching at Auburn in 2016 before returning to Ole Miss as defensive coordinator through the 2018 season. 

McGriff’s experience coaching in the defensive backfield will be welcomed as the Gator defense allowed 257 yards per game through the air last season under former coaches Torrian Gray and Ron English. 

Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @michael_hull33

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