Malzahn Brings In His "Right-Hand" Man

Arkansas State offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is joining his old boss, Gus Malzahn, at Auburn as offensive coordinator for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Rhett Lashlee, Gus Malzahn's offensive coordinator at Arkansas State for the 2012 season, will rejoin Malzahn in the same capacity at Auburn. The two men have worked together going back to their high school days in the state of Arkansas.

An offensive staff member at Auburn in 2009 and on the 2010 national championship team, Lashlee has a long history of coaching with Malzahn, who was named Auburn's 26th head football coach on Tuesday.

"Rhett is one of the best young offensive minds in college football," Malzahn said of the 29-year-old coach. "I've been with Rhett a long time and he's been an incredibly valuable right-hand man. He has a great knowledge and understanding of Auburn and will be a tremendous asset for this program both on and off the field."

Lashlee, who appeared with Malzahn and new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson at a press conference on Friday, said, "We're very excited to be back in Auburn to rejoin this program and the Auburn family, which has the best fans in the country. I'm looking forward to working with Coach Malzahn and help get this team headed in the right direction and return to winning football.

"Auburn holds a special place in my family's heart, as this is where our twin boys were born, so we are blessed to be back," Lashlee added. "I'm excited to get to work."

This season Lashlee was a nominee for the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach as Arkansas State finished the regular season 10-3 as champions of the Sun Belt Conference. His offense ranked 17th nationally in yards per game at 481.8 and it was 21st in scoring at 36.4 points per game and 21st in rushing at 217.4.

Rhett Lashlee (left), Gus Malzahn and Ellis Johnson (right) are shown at an introductory press conference for the coordinators.

Lashlee said that at Auburn the focus will be on putting a fast-paced, discipline style of play with an emphasis on being physical while attacking defenses with formations that include three and four wide receiver sets.

In his season at Arkansas State, Lashlee, who was a Broyles Award nominee as the nation's top assistant coach, helped guide Arkansas State to a Sun Belt Championship, while ranking 17th nationally in total offense (481.8 ypg), 21st in scoring offense (36.4 ppg) and rushing offense (217.4 ypg).

Rhett Lashlee

Under Lashlee, school and conference record-setting quarterback Ryan Aplin, was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year after leading the league in passing yards, passing efficiency, and total offense. Aplin was 18th nationally in passing efficiency, throwing for 23 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2012 after throwing 19 TDs and 16 interceptions the season before Lashlee's Three other Arkansas State staff members are also expected to make the move to Auburn. The group includes strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell, administrative assistant Brett Whiteside and graduate assistant coach Kodi Burns.

Kodi Burns

Russell and Whiteside previously worked for Auburn while Burns played on Auburn's 2010 national championship team.

Burns, who came to Auburn as a quarterback, converted to wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass from Cam Newton in Auburn's victory over Oregon in the BCS Championship Game. As a player for the Tigers, Burns won praise from his coaches and teammates for his leadership on and off the field.

Ryan Russell

Lashlee has been an offensive coordinator at the college level for two seasons. Last year he was on the staff at Samford University working for Pat Sullivan before joining Malzahn at Arkansas State this year.

Coaching on the 14-0 2010 team at AU, Lashlee worked with the slot receivers and with all aspects of the offense.

Brett Whiteside

Lashlee's first college coaching job was in 2006 at Arkansas where he was a graduate assistant coach working on Malzahn's staff. That team finished 10-4 overall and won the SEC West.

Prior to working with Malzahn at the University of Arkansas, Lashlee was on his staff at Springdale, Ark., High School where he coached Mitch Mustain, the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year.

Lashlee, who was a record-setting performer in high school at Shiloh Christian in Arkansas, was a backup quarterback in college at the University of Arkansas, but he was limited due to a shoulder injury that forced him to give up football. Malzahn noted that Lashlee was a gifted player who had the "it" factor when he came to playing and coaching the game.

Lashlee graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2006 with a degree in marketing and business administration. He received a masters in higher education from Auburn in 2009.

Malzahn officially announced his first staff hire on Thursday when he named veteran assistant coach Ellis Johnson as his defensive coordinator. The new Auburn head coach said that the coordinators will have major input on which assistant coaches are hired for the rest of the coaching staff.

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