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February 25, 2014
AUBURN | One day after hiring a new offensive analyst, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn filled a spot on defense.
Former linebacker and graduate assistant Travis Williams on Tuesday was hired for an off-the-field position. He spent the 2013 season as defensive coordinator at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga.
"I couldn't be more excited. This is such a great day for me and my family," Williams said Tuesday night. "I tell my players: I love the Lord, I love my family and I love Auburn. That's how I live my life. Auburn has done so much for me and now I have a chance to give back."
Williams endeared himself to Auburn fans as a tough and durable middle linebacker for former coach Tommy Tuberville's teams in 2004 and 2005. After spending two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and another in the music industry, Williams returned to Auburn in 2009 as a graduate assistant.
His second stint on the Plains was marked by his ability to connect with players and provide critical perspective. His Friday night speeches to the team were adored by players and even fans, who were able to watch via the "Auburn Football: Every Day …" television program.
"Coach Malzahn brought that up a few times when we were talking," Williams said with a laugh. "He said I gave a couple of the best speeches he's heard. Energizing and motivating young people is my passion. I hope I get a chance to do some of that."
Williams left for a full-time job at Northern Iowa prior to the 2012 season. He returned to Auburn last summer as a counselor during the Tigers' big summer camps and said he was hoping to land a job on the Plains as soon as possible.
That day arrived Tuesday. Williams will report to campus next week.
"I did everything I could to stay around the program and keep up with the people," Williams said. "Coach Malzahn really values what former players can bring to a program and that's really where this started. He values me and he's giving me this opportunity. It's great."
NOTE: This story was amended to show that Williams coached at Creekside in 2013.