Auburn linebacker coach James Willis will be taking a new job, and it’s a job that many Auburn fans won’t like. Alabama confirmed Wednesday that Willis will be joining Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama as Associate Head Coach.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to come and work with Coach Saban at the University of Alabama," Willis said in a prepared statement. "He is one of the best defensive coaches in the game and this is a chance to gain some great experience and learn from the best. You don't get many chances like that in the coaching business. When you combine that opportunity with the history and tradition at Alabama, it was a decision that was best for me personally as well as professionally. I know my wife and the kids are as excited as I am to join Coach Saban's staff."
With only two weeks before National Signing Day, the move comes at a curious time. Willis is known around the SEC as a strong coach and an even stronger recruiter. At Auburn, he was heavily involved in recruiting the talent-rich Mobile, Ala. area. With Auburn going through an off-season coaching change and Alabama coming off the SEC West title, the coup to get Willis will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the football-frenzied state.
Willis played three seasons at Auburn under former coach Pat Dye between 1990-92, before leaving early for the NFL. While at Auburn, Willis was an All-SEC performer in 1992. Willis enjoyed a long professional career, playing seven seasons in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks, as well as one season with the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the now-defunct XFL. Prior to the move, he was the only holdover on Gene Chizik's Auburn staff from Tommy Tuberville's previous regime.
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