Alabama expected to add Southern Miss coordinator to defensive staff

Alabama is expected to hire Southern Miss defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong to its on-field defensive coaching staff, ESPN reported Friday night.

Armstrong also coached Southern Miss’ inside linebackers the past two seasons under head coach Will Hall as one of the youngest coordinators in college football. 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 one season in 2019 as a defensive quality control coach on Kirby Smart’s staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to the vacancy left by Golding at defensive coordinator, Alabama also has an opening at safeties coach after Charles Kelly’s departure to Colorado.

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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