Ranking Nick Saban's Alabama football assistants based on their athletic careers
Each had varying degrees of success in college, from the SEC to Division III. A few had brief stints in the NFL, too.
Here's a ranking of Alabama assistants based on their athletic careers in college and the pros.
1. Freddie Roach, defensive line
In terms of production, durability and consistency, the former Alabama linebacker earns the top spot on this list. He began his career in 2002 with 10 starts and 63 stops, earning freshman All-SEC and All-America honors. By the time Roach was done in 2005, he had earned two All-SEC second team selections, ranked 10th on Alabama's all-time tackle list (272) and had played in 50 consecutive games. He started every game as a senior in 2005 as Alabama's defense finished No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in total defense. Roach signed with the Patriots out of college.
2. Travaris Robinson, cornerbacks
The former Auburn defensive back started as a receiver but switched to defense his sophomore year in 2000. His breakout season was his senior year as Robinson tallied 92 tackles and four interceptions en route to receiving a spot on the AP All-SEC first team. That season, he led the Tigers to a 17-7 Iron Bowl victory with 12 tackles, a team high. Robinson also spent two seasons in the NFL.
3. Robert Gillespie, running backs
The former Florida running back proved valuable as a runner and receiver from 1998-2001. By the time he left, he had caught 96 passes for 1,091 yards, the second-most in school history for a running back. Gillespie, a team captain in 2001, was only the second Gator ever to have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards at points in their career. He only started in 13 of 43 games played, though. Then he spent two years in the NFL with Washington and Jacksonville.
4. Eric Wolford, offensive line
He started four years for Kansas State on the offensive line, with 34 total starts. Playing for Bill Snyder, Wolford helped the Wildcats win their first bowl game, the 1993 Copper Bowl vs. Wyoming. He had a brief stint with the Arizona Cardinals.
5. Joe Cox, tight ends
He coaches Alabama’s tight ends now, but Cox was originally a quarterback for Georgia from 2006-09, serving as the starter in his last season. He finished his career completing 218 of 389 passes (56%) for 3,016 yards, 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. In that lone season, Cox completed 185 of 331 passes (55.9%) for 2,584 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as Georgia finished 8-5 and won the Independence Bowl.
6. Holmon Wiggins, assistant head coach of offense/wide receivers
Wiggins was a running back for New Mexico from 1998-2001, rushing for 1,883 yards on 423 carries for 11 touchdowns. By the time he was done with the Lobos, Wiggins had set New Mexico’s single-season records for punt returns (46) and punt return yards (392) during the 2000 season. He served as the punt returner for two seasons, finishing with 77 returns for 663 yards and one touchdown.
7. Bill O'Brien, offensive coordinator
He coaches offense now, but he got his start as a defensive player. O’Brien was a linebacker and defensive end for Brown University from 1990-92 while he got a double major in political science and organizational behavioral management. Then he started his coaching career by instructing tight ends at Brown in 1993.
8. Pete Golding, defensive coordinator
Golding was a four-year starter at safety at the Division II level for Delta State. He ranks fourth in program history with 285 career tackles from 2002-05. His junior year, Golding tallied a team-high 85 tackles to go with two interceptions and eight pass breakups, earning him a spot on the All-Gulf South Conference team.
9. Coleman Hutzler, special teams coordinator/outside linebackers
Hutzler played linebacker for Middlebury College, a Division III school in Vermont, from 2002-05. He finished second in career tackles at the school where he was also team captain as a senior.
10. Charles Kelly, associate defensive coordinator/safeties
Kelly was a walk-on defensive back for Auburn from 1986-89, playing for late Tigers coach Pat Dye. Minimal information is available about his time as a player at Auburn, where he graduated in 1990. Then, Kelly became a coach at Phenix City Central High School before returning to the Tigers as a GA in 1993.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly