AUBURN, Ala. — Continuity has been the name of the game for new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn as he goes about filling his staff.
Offensively, he already brought in his right-hand-man Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator and former Auburn quarterback/receiver Kodi Burns.
Defensively, it was coordinator Ellis Johnson’s turn Sunday.
Charlie Harbison, 53, will join Auburn’s staff as co-defensive coordinator, bringing with him recruiting chops and plenty of experience coaching alongside Johnson.
“Charlie is an outstanding coach and recruiter and we’re excited to have him join our staff,” Malzahn said. “He’s very familiar with Coach Ellis Johnson, having coached together on two different staffs, which will be a tremendous asset to our defense. He is a true professional and one of the class guys in college coaching.”
The first position coach added to Malzahn’s staff, Harbison, 53, spent the past four years as Clemson’s co-defensive coordinators and DBs coach. He will assume the same duties at Auburn.
“I’m looking forward to joining Coach Gus Malzahn’s staff at Auburn,” Harbison said. “Having coached against Auburn on several occasions, I’m very familiar with the great success and tradition associated with the program. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family.”
Harbison coached the Alabama secondary from 1998-2000 and returned to lead receivers in 2003-06.
Johnson has been defensive coordinator with Harbison on staff leading DBs for six total years together in three different places - 1995-96 at Clemson, 1998-2000 at Alabama, and 2007 at Mississippi State.
In 21 years of coaching, Harbison has spent 12 working with defensive backs – he played the position himself at Gardner-Webb – and nine overseeing wide receivers.
AuburnUndercover.com and TigerIllustrated.com (Clemson’s Rivals.com web site) first reported the staff addition Saturday night.
No. 14 Clemson, which defeated Auburn 26-19 in both teams’ 2012 opener, is preparing for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against No. 8 LSU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
The Tigers’ pass defense statistics this year – considering Clemson’s high-tempo offense, which increases each game’s amount of plays - ranged from slightly above-average to slightly below-average. Clemson’s points allowed (24.9) ranks 47th nationally, but total yards (411.3) ranks 74th. Opposing quarterbacks completed 57.9 percent of their passes (tied for 43rd), while their pass efficiency (132.41) ranks 62nd.
The only Auburn regular in the secondary lost to graduation is fifth-year senior T’Sharvan Bell. Meanwhile, junior Chris Davis, sophomore Jonathan Mincy and freshmen Joshua Holsey and Jonathan Jones are slated to return at cornerbacks, as are junior free safeties Demetruce McNeal, Trent Fisher and Ryan Smith and sophomore strong safety Jermaine Whitehead.