Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze shored up his staff Thursday by hiring Wesley McGriff as his defensive coordinator and Phil Longo to lead the offense.
McGriff is rejoining the Rebels, sources told ESPN, to head up a defense that struggled this season. He has NFL and college coaching experience and was most recently the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Auburn.
Longo led an up-tempo offense at Sam Houston State that produced 22,243 yards of total offense over the past three seasons. The Bearkats, who were eliminated in the FCS quarterfinals, rolled up 7,115 yards this season and had 7,975 yards in 2015 — third-most in FCS history.
McGriff worked under Kevin Steele this season at Auburn, which had one of the top defenses in the country. The Tigers ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (15.6 points per game) and were outstanding in red-zone defense (fourth nationally), rushing defense and eliminating explosive plays — areas that plagued the Ole Miss defense in 2016.
Auburn allowed just five rushing touchdowns. The only FBS team that allowed fewer this season was Alabama, with three.
McGriff has previously worked at Vanderbilt, Miami, Baylor and Kentucky, among other schools. He was the cornerbacks coach at Ole Miss under Freeze in 2012 and was the point man in recruiting several of the Rebels' best players over the past few years. He left Ole Miss to coach defensive backs with the NFL's New Orleans Saints. He has been with Auburn the past two seasons.
McGriff was the defensive backs coach at Miami in 2010, and the Hurricanes ranked No. 2 nationally in pass defense. In 2011, he was defensive backs coach at Vanderbilt, and the Commodores' secondary intercepted 12 passes, including three that were returned for touchdowns.