Zac Etheridge named cornerbacks coach at Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. – Zac Etheridge, a team captain on Auburn’s 2010 national championship team, has been named the Tigers’ cornerbacks coach, head coach Bryan Harsin announced Friday. Etheridge spent the previous two seasons in the same capacity at the University of Houston.

At Houston, Etheridge mentored cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Damarion Williams, who thrived under his direction. Jones was named an All-American in 2020 at cornerback by Pro Football Focus (PFF) and was an All-American selection as a punt return specialist by the FWAA, CBS/247 Sports and the Phil Steele Magazine. Jones also was graded as one of the top-5 corners in 2020 by PFF. Under two seasons of Etheridge’s tutelage, Williams blossomed into an all-conference player in 2020, starting 19 consecutive games for the Cougars.

“Zac Etheridge is a rising star in this profession and is a great addition to Coach Mason’s defense working with cornerbacks,” Harsin said. “He has done a fantastic job in a short period of time developing and recruiting talented players. As a former Auburn standout, Zac understands the rigors of competing at the highest level, and what is required to be an Auburn man.”

Etheridge played a key role in Houston’s improvement on defense in 2020, as the Cougars finished fourth in the American Athletic Conference in total defense (398.5 yards per game). Houston’s defense also saw improvements from 2019 to 2020 in passing yards allowed, third down conversion defense percentage and tackles for loss.

This past December he was selected to the American Football Coaches Association 2021 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute. The prestigious program is aimed at identifying and developing premier, future leaders in the football coaching profession and is part of the AFCA Convention.

“It is an honor to return to my alma mater as a member of Coach Harsin’s staff,” Etheridge said. “I firmly believe in his vision and I am excited to get to work.  Under his leadership, I have no doubt that our staff will develop our young men both on and off the field.  We will absolutely embody the championship mindset that Auburn deserves. Auburn and its people mean a great deal to me, and I am very thankful for this opportunity.  War Eagle!”

Prior to his arrival at Houston, Etheridge spent a season at the University of Louisiana, where he helped lead the Ragin Cajuns to a spot in both the Cure Bowl and the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Etheridge spent two seasons at Western Carolina from 2016-17, where he started coaching the cornerbacks in 2016 before being elevated to a full-time position as an assistant coach with his focus switching to WCU’s outside linebackers in 2017.

His coaching career began as a graduate assistant coach at Penn State under head coach Bill O’Brien, followed by two years as a defensive graduate assistant at Georgia Tech where he worked closely with the secondary.

A four-year starter at Auburn, Etheridge broke his neck during his junior season in 2009 against Ole Miss. Nine months later, after extensive rehabilitation, Etheridge returned to the starting lineup for Auburn and captained his team along a memorable run to the national title at the end of the 2010 season, finishing second on the team with 69 tackles, intercepting three passes, and returning a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas.

Etheridge garnered freshman All-America status from numerous publications following the 2007 season, starting 12 of Auburn’s 13 games. He led Auburn with 75 tackles in 2008 and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2009.

A native of Troy, Ala., Etheridge received the second annual James Owens Courage Award from Auburn in 2013. The award, named for the school’s first African-American football player, was established to honor a player who has shown courage in the face of adversity.

A 2009 Auburn graduate with a degree in political science, Etheridge has a daughter, Mia.