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December 19, 2012

Auburn notes: Malzahn wants full staff soon; Westerman happy to be home at Arizona State

Gus Malzahn 17AUBURN, Ala. – Gus Malzahn has not been made available to local media since the introduction of his coordinators Dec. 7.

But Auburn’s new head coach, with a brief stoppage in high school recruiting, has made the radio rounds on state and national stages, appearing on The Tim Brando Show as well as programs in Birmingham and Huntsville.

Malzahn revealed his plan is to completely fill out his coaching staff around the time recruiting contact reopens Jan. 3, a little over a month before Signing Day.

“I think it’s very important that the coordinators have some ownership in these hires,” Malzahn told Cole Cubelic on 97.7 The Zone in Huntsville Tuesday. “My whole deal is I’m going to get men of character that will represent Auburn the right way. They’re going to be great coaches and great recruiters.”

Malzahn has already brought in offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, and co-defensive coordinators Ellis Johnson and Charlie Harbison. Many potential candidates for position coaches could still be preparing for bowl games, or even finishing out NFL seasons – like Tennessee Titans defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, a former Auburn great rumored to return to the Plains.

“Before our first official visit, we’d like to have all of the pieces of the puzzle,” Malzahn said. “Some guys are still coaching at different levels, so you have to be a little bit patient. We’ll get the right people, and so far we’ve had great response.”

Of course, Malzahn was offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2009-11, which means in the limited contact he’s had with returning players, there has been little meet-and-greet required.

“I think that helps me because I do know our personnel pretty well. Recruited a lot of them,” Malzahn told Brando Wednesday. “I think that’s going to help me identify the areas we need to improve in. That’s kind of what I’ve done the last week and a half is try to identify our deficiencies and really try to attack those as far as recruiting, whether it’s a high school guy or junior college guy to fill those gaps.

“The good thing is, these players pretty much know what they’re fixing to get with me. I’m just ready to get on the practice field and get this thing going.”

Malzahn hasn’t slowed down much in his first two weeks on the job.

“I’ve got one of those one-track minds. I try to put my heart and soul into it,” Malzahn said. “I love coaching football. I love coaching young men and trying to help them reach their hopes and dreams. That’s really what drives me.”

Westerman happy to be home

Christian Westerman and his father confirmed to the Arizona Republic the offensive lineman has filed official paperwork to transfer from Auburn to Arizona State, where he will enroll for classes in January.

Multiple requests to Auburn’s compliance office for information on Westerman’s status have not been acknowledged. The redshirt freshman is the only reported outgoing transfer since Gene Chizik was fired.

Westerman, a top recruit out of Chandler, Ariz., played three games for the Tigers this year and would have competed for a starting spot in 2013. But he told the Republic he felt homesick and liked seeing the hometown Sun Devils’ turnaround under new coach Todd Graham.

“I’ve been home for two days and gotten more love than I did at Auburn for two years,” Westerman told the newspaper Wednesday. “That’s pretty cool to me. I’m definitely happy about the decision I made.”

NCAA rules indicate Westerman will likely have to sit out next year per standard transfer regulations.

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