ESPN: Southern Miss defensive coordinator ‘expected’ to join SEC West school

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee | AP)
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 9:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Southern Miss’ rising staff member, defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong, is set to make a move to an SEC school following a successful 2022 season in Hattiesburg.

According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Coach Armstrong is “expected” to join the coaching staff of the Alabama Crimson Tide as a part of head coach Nick Saban’s defensive staff in Tuscaloosa.

The news comes after Alabama lost both of their defensive coordinators, including the departure of Pete Golding, who is now the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.

It is unclear what role Armstrong will assume.

Coach Armstrong, the youngest defensive coordinator in the country, also coached linebackers at Southern Miss for the past two seasons. With Armstrong calling the shots defensively, the Golden Eagles achieved bowl eligibility for the first time since 2019, spearheaded by his “Nasty Bunch” defense. Southern Miss won the LendingTree Bowl against former Conference USA, the Rice Owls, 38-24 to cap off the 2022 season and secure the black and gold’s first bowl win since 2016.

In the 2022 season, Southern Miss ranked in the top 5 in the country in sacks, recording 44 on the year and defensive touchdowns with 4. The Nasty Bunch had the seventh-highest number of passes intercepted in the 2022 season as well with 17.

Southern Miss finished the 2022 season with a 7-6 record (4-4 in Sun Belt Conference play), the school’s first winning record since the 2019 season.

From being a graduate assistant for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in 2017-2018 and taking the role as a defensive quality control coach for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2019, Armstrong’s rise in the coaching ranks has been immaculate in his young career.

The feeling is Southern Miss and head football coach Will Hall will look to elevate a new defensive coordinator from their current staff, but it remains unclear who the top candidate is as the Armstrong news is yet to be confirmed.

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