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Coaches

Wesley McGriff

A 24-year coaching veteran, Wesley McGriff is in his third season as secondary coach with the Saints.

In his first two seasons with the Saints, McGriff has overseen the development of young players such as safeties Rafael Bush, Kenny Vaccaro and Pierre Warren and cornerback Terrence Frederick in a secondary that has gotten younger, while also depending on veterans such as safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Keenan Lewis. Last year, Lewis led the Saints with 13 passes defensed, while adding two interceptions. Vaccaro led the New Orleans secondary with 113 tackles and added one sack and two interceptions. McGriff also worked the undrafted rookie Warren into the starting lineup immediately for the final six games due to injuries in the secondary and he responded, tying for the team lead with three takeaways.

A 24-year coaching veteran, Wesley McGriff is in his third season as secondary coach with the Saints.

In his first two seasons with the Saints, McGriff has overseen the development of young players such as safeties Rafael Bush, Kenny Vaccaro and Pierre Warren and cornerback Terrence Frederick in a secondary that has gotten younger, while also depending on veterans such as safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Keenan Lewis. Last year, Lewis led the Saints with 13 passes defensed, while adding two interceptions. Vaccaro led the New Orleans secondary with 113 tackles and added one sack and two interceptions. McGriff also worked the undrafted rookie Warren into the starting lineup immediately for the final six games due to injuries in the secondary and he responded, tying for the team lead with three takeaways.

In his first season in New Orleans, the Saints had one of the NFL’s top defensive units as they ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (305.7 ypg.), second in in opponent passing yards per game (194.1 ypg.) and fourth in scoring defense (19.0 ppg.), posting an 11-5 record and advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs. Lewis finished with a career-high and team-best four interceptions and Vaccaro led the secondary with 93 tackles as a rookie.

McGriff spent 2012 as co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks at the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss finished second in the SEC and in the top 15 in the NCAA in tackles for a loss per game (7.7) and sacks per game (2.8). Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche was named to the Football Writers Association of America All-America Team and SEC All-Freshman team, defensive tackle Isaac Gross earned conference All-Freshman honors from league coaches and was named to the CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America first team and safety Trae Elston was named to the ESPN SEC All-Freshman team.

Prior to joining the Rebels, McGriff spent one season as defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt, where he helped the Commodores to only their fifth all-time appearance in a bowl. His secondary produced 12 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. McGriff helped current Green Bay Packer Casey Hayward to become the first Vanderbilt All-American in four years, posting seven interceptions, the third-highest single-season total ever by a Commodore.

Before moving to Nashville, McGriff spent four seasons as the secondary coach at the University of Miami (Fla.). In 2010, the Hurricanes ranked second in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 164.3 yards per game. The Miami defense finished ranked 16th nationally and 21st in scoring defense. In 2009, the Hurricanes ranked 29th in total defense, as he tutored All-America defensive back Brandon Harris, now with the Houston Texans. McGriff also tutored current New Orleans safety Kenny Phillips and Green Bay defensive back Sam Shields. Phillips was named an All-American in 2007.

McGriff served as the defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Baylor from 2003-06 and enjoyed his first major college stint at Kentucky from 2001-02. He spent 2000 as the secondary coach at Eastern Kentucky where he mentored DB Yeremiah Bell, who earned first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and was later drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round in 2003.

From 1995-99, McGriff served in multiple roles including assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kentucky State and was named the AFCA’s NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year.

He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Savannah State, from 1990-94. Starting as a graduate assistant, McGriff tutored running backs before coaching the secondary in 1991 and later serving as defensive coordinator and interim head coach.

McGriff, a Tifton, Ga. native, started at linebacker for Savannah State from 1987-89 and was named the conference’s 1989 Male Academic Athlete of the Year. He received his bachelor’s degree while graduating cum laude in 1990 and earned a master’s in public administration from Georgia Southern in 1993. McGriff was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1990 and was a member of the Army Reserves until 2001.

PLAYING CAREER: Savannah State, 1986-89.

COACHING CAREER: Savannah State, 1990-94; Kentucky State, 1995-99; Eastern Kentucky, 2000; Kentucky, 2001-02; Baylor, 2003-06; Miami (Fla.), 2007-10; Vanderbilt, 2011; Mississippi, 2012; New Orleans Saints, 2013-.

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