Ellis Johnson

Auburn player intends to reach out to Laquon Treadwell


Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell dislocated his ankle and broke his fibula on a play that could be the turning point of the season for the Rebels. What looked to be a go-ahead touchdown against Auburn instead resulted in a lost fumble and a pair of injuries to end the year for one of the most talented offensive players in the SEC. The Auburn player who made the tackle on the play, linebacker Kris Frost, has been thinking about Treadwell and plans to reach out at some point soon.

“When time is right, I’ll try to reach out to him and see how he’s doing,” Frost said in a report by Al.com. “That’s the nature of the game. It’s unfortunate that things happen that way. I hope that he has a speedy recovery.”

Injuries do happen for every team, and sometimes they come at critical points in a game. No team truly enjoys having to win a game that way, and that appears to be the case for Auburn. Auburn now sits one game behind Mississippi State in the SEC West, tied for second place with Alabama. The Tigers already lost to Mississippi State this season and would need the Bulldogs to lose twice to have a chance to represent the SEC West in the SEC Championship game in all likelihood.

Auburn DE Carl Lawson not expected to return by mid-season

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Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson tempered expectations Monday regarding the possible return of Carl Lawson to the lineup at some point early this season.

Lawson suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, but he’s aggressively rehabbed the injury and teammates have been excited about his progress. Those teammates believe Lawson will be ready to contribute at some point during the season.

An ACL injury normally requires six to nine months of recovery time. Even if Lawson is ahead of schedule and cleared to play this fall, it won’t be until later in the season.

“It’s been a remarkable rehab and recovery,” Johnson said on SiriusXM’s College Sports Today. “He’s way ahead of schedule, but I would say half a season would be optimistic.”

If Lawson completes is rehab within the six-month time frame after having ACL surgery May 1, the earliest he will be ready to play is Nov. 1 against the Ole Miss Rebels.

The Tigers can’t rely on Lawson potentially recovering faster than expected. The coaching staff has to plan accordingly and develop other pass rushers on the team.

“We don’t know when we’re going to get (Lawson) back,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve got some guys who can step up.”

Johnson may be able to manufacture a pass rush with multiple looks along the defensive line. Defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams have both practiced at defensive end, and they’ll provide push from both the interior and the edge throughout games. Senior defensive end LaDarius Owens will also need to step up in Lawson’s absence and develop into the team’s primary edge rusher.

(Hat tip: Al.com)

Star appeal: Auburn’s Robenson Therezie faces ‘eligibility issues’


When the Auburn Tigers made their improbable run to the final BCS National Championship Game, the team’s defense was an overlooked part of its success. One of the unit’s top performers was its “star”, Robenson Therezie.

If the Tigers are to repeat as SEC champions, they may have to do so without Therezie for an unspecified amount of time. Therezie, a preseason All-SEC Second Team selection, may not be eligible to play for the Tigers by the start of his senior campaign, according to USA TODAY.

“We’re working through some eligibility issues right now with him,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told USA TODAY’s James Crepea. “We should know in the near future.”

When Malzahn took over the program, he hired Ellis Johnson to become the team’s defensive coordinator. Johnson overhauled an underachieving unit. One of the major changes was switching from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-2-5 scheme which featured the “star” position, a linebacker-safety hybrid that could be used all over the field. Therezie won the starting job in fall camp. He finished sixth on the team with 57 total tackles and led the team with four interceptions.

The Tigers are now preparing for life without Therezie. Johnson admitted the team is “not sure (Therezie)’s going to be able to play early.”

Junior Justin Garrett is next in line to start as the team’s “star.” Garrett only played in two games last year, but he’s prepared for a much bigger role this season after splitting first-team repetitions with Therezie in practice.

“We’re getting Justin ready and right now we’ve got to get some depth out there.” Johnson said.

Auburn rewarding coaching staff handsomly


The premise is fairly simple. When you take your team to a championship in the SEC and play for a BCS title in your first year on the job, you get a raise. Auburn announced the details for a new contract for head football coach Gus Malzahn and his staff, as well as the contract for new men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Malzahn received a two-year extension complete with a raise to $3.85 million in 2014 with a $250,000 raise each year following through 2019.

The details of the new contract for Malzahn were actually announced in December, although the details about the incentives in the contract are new information. According to the contract details shared by Auburn on Friday, Malzahn can earn $300,000 for playing in the national championship game and another $500,000 for winning it. Malzahn will also be due $200,000 for leading the Tigers to any of the top six bowl games.

Malzahn’s staff will also be taken care of quite well by Auburn. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee received a raise of $250,000 to up his salary to $600,000 with a two-year extension running through June 2017. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson remains the highest-paid assistant coach after receiving a raise of $50,000 to $800,000 with a one-year extension running through June 2017. The rest of the staff saw pay increases as well, which are detailed in this release.

Having the funds to keep a quality coaching staff together is important, especially for a team coming off as successful a season as Auburn is. What this staff does for an encore in 2014 should be quite interesting in a season when a number of SEC programs will be looking for some new leaders on the field.

It should also be noted that earlier this week Alabama made head coach Nick Saban an even wealthier man as well.

Two of three million-dollar assistant coaches reside in SEC


While much of the coaching discussion regarding contracts this week has centered on a potential bidding war for Nick Saban between Alabama and Texas, keep in mind assistant coaches are getting some pretty decent paychecks as well.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is the highest paid assistant coach in college football. Clemson’s assistant coach is earning $1,309,650 in 2013 according to a recent database compiled by USA Today. Two other assistant coaches are making seven digits as well.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart ($1.15 million) and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis ($1.116 million). Of the top ten highest paid assistant coaches, five reside in the SEC. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, and Texas A&M’s Mark Snyder are among the top ten highest paid assistant coaches.

Clemson is paying top dollar for their coaching staff. In addition to Morris, the Tigers are also shelling out a reported $800,000 for defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Clemson’s investment in the coaching staff has not come without a plan. The Tigers made a clear investment in their staff to keep the program in a competitive footing in the ACC and as a national championship contender. Over the last three seasons Clemson has won an ACC championship, won a Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU and is heading back to the BCS to play Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Michigan is also paying big bucks for their assistant coaches, with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison ($851,400) and offensive coordinator Al Borges ($709,300) each falling in the top ten.

So, which school is getting the most bang for their buck among the highest paid assistants? Michigan seems to be tanking dollars considering the amount they are paying their top two assistant coaches.

You can view the entire database via USA Today.