Malzahn has a full staff again with the hiring of Williams after losing 2015 defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to South Carolina, which hired him as head coach. Muschamp hired Auburn secondary coach Travaris Robinson to be his defensive coordinator. After Auburn’s bowl game Lance Thompson, who worked with the buck position on the AU defense in 2015, joined Muschamp’s staff.
In addition to the hire of Williams, earlier on Thursday the Tigers filled the vacant secondary coach position by hiring Wesley McGriff, who coached defensive backs for the past three seasons in New Orleans for the NFL's Saints. McGriff will be the co-defensive coordinator along with Kevin Steele. Steele was hired from LSU on Dec. 30.
"I am very thankful to Coach Malzahn for believing in me and for giving me this opportunity," Williams said. "To whom much is given, much will be required. I understand the expectations and responsibility of being the linebackers coach at Auburn. I understand Auburn and those that laid the foundation before me. Auburn is home. If it wasn't for Auburn, I wouldn’t have met my wife and had two beautiful girls."
On announcing the hire, Malzahn said, "I have always been very impressed by Travis’ knowledge and passion for the game and his ability to relate to our players. "I'm glad to have him as an on-field coach. Travis embodies Auburn and what Auburn football is about. He’s a great addition to our staff."
Williams, a two-time All-SEC linebacker who was a key performer on Auburn’s unbeaten 2004 team and again in 2005, made 224 career tackles for the Tigers. He won the Pat Dye Leadership Award for Auburn's defense as a junior and senior. Following college he spent three seasons with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
"We always say we laid that foundation of the way it is supposed to be, but not to disrespect anybody, it was laid before us," Williams said about the 2004 Tigers. "There were great defenses here. What I really liked about being here was Coach (Joe) Whitt always educated about Auburn history. I know about the '83 season, the '84 season, '89, '88, '90, '91. I know about all the great defenses. We did a really good job of keeping it steady. There was leadership way before we got here, and leadership in the early 2000s like Reggie Torbor, Spencer Johnson, Karlos Dansby, who showed us how to do it."
Travis Williams (51) flanked by T.J. Jackson (58), Jay Ratliff (83) and Carlos Rogers (14) on that 2004 defense
Williams worked as a quality control assistant for Auburn the past two years. He was put in charge of the linebackers as Auburn prepared to play Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl and won praise from the players he coached for the job he did.
Additionally, he was heavily involved in the recruiting process after moving to the temporary on-the-field roles each of the past two seasons. Prior to joining the Auburn staff as a defensive analyst he was defensive coordinator at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga. He worked as a graduate assistant coach at Auburn in 2009 and 2010, the season the Tigers were the undefeated BCS champions.
In that game the Auburn defense did not allow a touchdown in a 31-10 victory vs. Memphis. A year earlier after Ellis Johnson was fired as defensive coordinator, Williams took over Johnson’s linebacker coaching role for the Outback Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
Rodney Garner, who has been Auburn's defensive line coach the past season, joins Williams as an Auburn graduate on Malzahn's on-the-field staff along with wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig.