Chizik Hires Martinez For Defensive Staff

Veteran defensive coach Willie Martinez is joining Coach Gene Chizik's Auburn football staff.

Auburn, Ala.--Veteran coach Willie Martinez is joining Auburn's football staff replacing Phillip Lolley where Martinez will be reunited with Brian VanGorder, the man head coach Gene Chizik hired in January to coordinate the defense.

Chizik announced on Friday that the Tigers have hired Martinez, a 48-year-old who has more two decades of experience as a college football coach.

"This is a great opportunity to be a part of a storied program and tremendous coaching staff here at Auburn," Martinez said. "I've had the pleasure to know Coach Chizik and other members of this staff for a long time and I share their energy and passion for the game of football and developing young men.

"I'm appreciative of this opportunity and look forward to helping Auburn win championships in the future," Martinez aded.

Chizik said, "Willie Martinez is an experienced coach that has been very successful in this conference and understands the rigors of coaching and recruiting in the SEC. We're excited to have him on board and look forward to bringing his knowledge and experience to our staff."

Auburn will be the fourth college that Martinez and VanGorder have worked at together. The first was Central Florida, followed by Central Michigan and then Georgia.

Martinez is expected to coach defensive backs for the Tigers. VanGorder said he is still sorting out the individual assignments for the defensive staff.

There is a possibility that Martinez will coach all of the secondary players and Tommy Thigpen, who has coached safeties the past three seasons, will work with the linebackers, an assignment he handled in his previous post at North Carolina. If that happens VanGorder would work with players at every position and not be assigned to one particular area as a position coach.

Ted Roof, the defensive coordinator the previous seasons for Chizik, handled double duty as the linebacker coach.

Martinez spent the previous two seasons as a secondary coach at the University of Oklahoma. The coach is returning to the Southeastern Conference where he was on the staff at the University of Georgia from 2001-2009.

Martinez was secondary coach for UGA defensive coordinator VanGorder from 2001-2004 in Athens and took over as defensive coordinator in 2005 when VanGorder took a job as an assistant coach for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Martinez stayed at Georgia as defensive coordinator through the 2009 season before taking a job with the Oklahoma Sooners.

Martinez is the third new member of Auburn's staff for the 2012 season along with VanGorder, who replaced Ted Roof, and Scot Loeffler, who replaced Gus Malzahn as coach of the quarterbacks and offensive coordinator.

Auburn now has a full coaching staff with Martinez filling the spot held by Lolley for the past three seasons as coach of the cornerbacks. Lolley, who has been at Auburn since 1999, is staying on the staff in administrative role.

Martinez coached at Oklahoma the past two seasons.

Martinez began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Miami, where he played on a national championship team. His first full-time coaching position was in 1988 at Bethune-Cookman where he worked with the quarterbacks and receivers.

He coached at Boca Raton, Fla., High in 1989-90 and Olympic Heights, Fla., High in 1991 before moving to Grand Valley State in 1992-93 as defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

He was secondary coach at MAC champion Central Michigan in 1994 and the next two seasons served as secondary coach and defensive coordinator at Central Florida. He was secondary coach at Eastern Michigan in 1997 and handled the same assignment at Central Michigan in 1998-99.

The following season he was named the assistant head coach at Central Michigan before heading to Georgia. The 2000 Central Michigan team led the nation in pass defense allowing 149.7 yards per game.

Martinez, who played defensive back in college, has coached 14 defensive backs who were drafted by NFL teams. His 2005 Georgia defense was eighth in the country in scoring defense (16.4 points per game) and seventh in pass defense.

His 2006 defense ranked eighth nationally in total defense, fifth in pass defense and first in the SEC in third down efficiency.

The 2007 defense finished first in the SEC and eighth nationally in sacks (42) and 14 nationally in total defense. In his nine seasons at Georgia the Bulldogs averaged 10 victories per year and won two SEC titles.

A native of Coral Gables, Fla., Martinez played football for Hollywood Hills High before attending the University of Miami.

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