Alabama should add Southern Miss coordinator to defensive staff

Alabama set to hire Southern Miss defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong for its on-court defensive coaching staff, ESPN reported Friday night.

Armstrong also coached Southern Miss inside linebackers for the past two seasons under head coach Will Hall as one of college football’s youngest coordinators. The Golden Eagles defense finished 45th in allowing 23.5 points per game in 2022.

He came to Southern Miss from Georgia, where he spent a season in 2019 as a defensive quality control coach on the Kirby Smart staff.

FootballScoop.com reported earlier Friday that Armstrong was a “strong candidate” to join the Alabama staff. His planned hire comes as Alabama defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Pete Golding is expected to join the Ole Miss staff as defensive coordinator.

Armstrong played linebacker at Huntingdon College in Division III Montgomery, graduating in December 2015. He later coached at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School while trying to find a job coaching college.

“I wrote a handwritten letter to everyone who coaches football below the Mason-Dixon line in Texas and sent them my resume,” Armstrong told Club Level with Trevor Ritchie last year. “I wasn’t self-righteous enough to think that if I wrote Coach Saban in Alabama 20 handwritten notes, he would say, ‘Hey, this guy is a good guy. That’s not how it works. It’s easier to get into Wall Street than it is to get into college football. So I focused on [Will] Hall in West Georgia.

Armstrong said he called Hall’s office several times a day and his cousin contacted Hall’s father to get an interview for a graduate assistant position at West Georgia, a Division II program.

“I ended up getting the job for $287,” he told Club Level. “They gave me a place to live, so I was very lucky. I also received a one-time $400 food allowance for the semester. I worked there for a season. My office was literally a closet.

Armstrong followed Hall in 2017 as a defensive graduate assistant to Louisiana, where Hall had been hired by Mark Hudspeth as an offensive coordinator. Armstrong was retained by new Louisiana coach Billy Napier in 2018 and rehired as inside linebackers coach for the Ragin Cajuns in 2020 after his stint in Georgia.

In addition to the position vacated by Golding as defensive coordinator, Alabama also has an opening as safety coach after Charles Kelly left Colorado.

Mike Rodak is a Beat Alabama reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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