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April 27, 2013

Only one drafted player from Auburn, but six new assistants celebrate former pupils

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Six new Auburn assistant football coaches had a reason to smile and pump their fists for former pupils in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Now, of course, they’re tasked with ensuring their new team can get back to being a factory for professional prospects.

Defensive end Corey Lemonier was the lone Auburn player selected over the past three days – drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round Friday – matching the Tigers’ meek output from a year ago.

Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, tailback Onterio McCalebb, wide receiver Emory Blake and the rest of the outgoing Tigers become unrestricted free agents.

Auburn’s 16th-ranked recruiting class of 2009 (according to Scout.com rankings), the first of former coach Gene Chizik’s tenure, has had only one player drafted out of 27 commits: defensive tackle Nick Fairley, a junior college transfer who entered early for the 2011 NFL Draft and was picked by the Lions in the first round.

The only two players remaining on the active roster from  that class are defensive ends Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae.

But the new position coaches heard some good news.

EJ Manuel was Dameyune Craig’s quarterback at Florida State the past three years, and was a surprise selections by the passer-needy Buffalo Bills with the 16th overall selections.

In a quarterback-weak draft, Manuel was the first selected, going ahead of quarterbacks such as West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and USC’s Matt Barkley.

Melvin Smith, previously the defensive backs coach at Mississippi State, saw Johnthan Banks (Tampa Bay) and Darius Slay (Lions) move on as 2nd-round selections. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s linebacker from Southern Miss, Jamie Collins, was also taken in the second round by New England.

Rodney Garner’s Georgia defensive line was represented twice in this year’s draft, by tackle John Jenkins in the third round (Saints) and end Cornelius Washington in the sixth (Chicago.)

Tim Horton’s tailback, Knile Davis of Arkansas, went to Kansas City in the third round and Charlie Harbison’s safety, Jonathan Meeks of Clemson, joined Manuel in Buffalo in the fifth round.

New head coach Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes came from Arkansas State. EDIT: A-State had a safety, Don Jones, selected 250th overall – or fifth-to-last – by Miami. The previous article saying the Red Wolves did not have a draft pick was incorrect. The writer regrets the error.

The coaching staff is rounded out by tight ends/special teams coach Scott Fountain, promoted from Auburn’s support staff.

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