Hugh Freeze is bringing a pair of on-field assistants with him from Liberty to Auburn.
Jeremy Garrett will serve as Auburn’s defensive line coach, while Ben Aigamaua will be the Tigers’ tight ends coach, a source confirmed to AL.com. Garrett spent last season in the same role on Freeze’s staff at Liberty, where the Flames led the country in tackles for loss (109), finished third among all FBS teams in sacks (41) and were 34th nationally in running defense, limiting opponents to 3.76 yards per carry. Aigamaua was Liberty’s tight ends coach last season.
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Garrett and Aigamaua join Cadillac Williams as the first on-field assistants for Freeze’s inaugural staff. Freeze, who was hired Monday and introduced on the Plains on Tuesday, is working to quickly assemble his first Auburn staff as key recruiting dates rapidly approach, including the opening of the transfer portal next week.
Garrett was out recruited with Freeze in Montgomery on Friday, joining the head coach, associate head coach Cadillac Williams and assistant coaches Zac Etheridge and Christian Robinson at Madhouse Training, where many of the areas top prospects train.
Garrett, a former defensive lineman at Ole Miss when Freeze was an assistant with the Rebels, has 13 years of coaching experience to his name but just two at the college level. He got his start as a high school coach in Mississippi and Tennessee before serving as a defensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt in 2019 under then-Commodores coach Derek Mason. Garrett worked closely with Vanderbilt’s defensive line that season.
After one year at Vanderbilt, Garrett made the jump to the NFL, where he spent two seasons as an assistant defensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns. While with the Browns, Garrett worked with the likes of first-team All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon and Jadeveon Clowney. Cleveland finished the 2020 season, his first with the franchise, with the NFL’s ninth-ranked run defense after finishing 30th the year prior, while the Browns were one of just four teams to have two players each post at least nine sacks that season.
In his second season with Cleveland, the Browns were fifth in total defense for just the third time since 1970. The franchise finished in the top-five in that category. Myles Garrett, meanwhile, set the franchise record with 19 sacks that year. After his run with the Browns, Garrett was tabbed by Freeze to join Liberty’s staff this past season.
Aigamaua has been a mainstay of Freeze’s coaching staffs throughout the years. He was a graduate assistant at Lambuth in 2010, served various roles on Freeze’s staff at Ole Miss and then spent the last four seasons at Liberty’s tight ends coach.
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde. Nubyjas Wilborn is an Auburn beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nwilborn19.