Football: Cajuns Add Melvin Smith To 2015 Coaching Staff
Veteran coach spent nearly two decades in SEC
LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns head football coach Mark Hudspeth filled another position to his defensive staff on Thursday when he announced that veteran coach Melvin Smith would join the staff for the 2015 season.
The hiring of Smith, who has nearly two decades of experience coaching in the SEC, is subject to approval from the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors.
Smith, who will serve as the Ragin’ Cajuns assistant head coach, defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator, spent the past two seasons at Auburn where he helped the Tigers to the 2013 SEC Championship and a berth in the BCS Championship game.
Before his tenure at Auburn, the Taylorsville, Miss., native spent seven seasons at Mississippi State where he worked with Hudspeth (2009-10) and helped the Bulldogs to a No. 15 ranking in the final 2010 national polls and a berth in the Toyota Gator Bowl. Smith also coached at Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Delta State
"We’re very excited and fortunate to have Melvin Smith joining our staff," Hudspeth said. "He has a reputation of being one of the best defensive back coaches in the country with stops at Auburn, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Alabama and Ole Miss. He’ll bring a wealth of experience to the defensive side of the ball and he’s known as one of the top recruiters in the country. We’re excited for him and his wife (Shelia) in joining the Ragin’ Cajuns family."
Smith coached a pair of All-SEC selections for Auburn during the 2014 season, including Jonathan Jones (AP, SEC Coaches) and Jonathon Mincy (SEC Coaches), who were each named to the second team.
In his first season on the Plains 2013, Smith was instrumental in the second biggest turnaround in college football history in NCAA records (�8.0 games) while his secondary made one of the most dramatic improvements in production, recording 13 interceptions after recording two in 2012.
Among his pupils in 2013 was senior cornerback Chris Davis who was an Associated Press All-SEC second-team selection and made one of the top plays in college football history with a 109-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown in a 34-28 victory over No. 1-ranked Alabama.
During his tenure at Mississippi State, Smith mentored Jonathan Banks, who won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back. Banks also earned Walter Camp All-America honors and was a first-team All-SEC selection.
Smith tutored a Bulldog defense that had 30 takeaways, which led the SEC and was 12th nationally. Darius Slay, a second-team All-SEC pick, tied for the league lead in interceptions with five, while Banks had four.
In 2009, Smith guided a young group that led the SEC with 17 interceptions. Led by then-freshman Corey Broomfield’s six picks, the corners improved as the season progressed. For his efforts, Broomfield was named Freshman All-SEC. In 2011, Smith continued to tutor Broomfield and Banks, who developed into an All-SEC performer and was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Smith returned to Mississippi State in 2006 after spending time at both Alabama and Texas A&M. In just his second season back at MSU, Smith helped the Bulldogs’ pass defense rank fourth in the SEC, allowing just 182.2 yards per game, sixth in pass efficiency defense (114.8). The Bulldogs improved their interception total from 12 to 15.
The 32-year coaching veteran came back to Mississippi State following three seasons at Texas A&M, where he coached the safeties. During his tenure in College Station, Smith helped the Aggies to a 7-4 regular season record in 2004 and a berth in the 2005 Cotton Bowl. Smith coached the safeties at Alabama in 2002, where the Crimson Tide team posted a 10-3 regular season record.
Smith was an assistant football coach at Mississippi State for seven years (1995-2001), helping guide the Bulldogs through the greatest period in the school’s football history. In 2000, three of his four defensive backfield starters signed professional football contracts. That secondary intercepted 19 passes, the second-most in school history.
Smith has also coached on the collegiate level in Mississippi at Ole Miss (1992-94) and Delta State (1990-91). He began his coaching career on the high school level at Greenwood (Miss.) from 1982-89. By the time he became an assistant at Delta State in 1990, he’d joined the Army Reserves for a stint that would eventually last eight years.