Former Miami Hurricanes assistant coach Wesley McGriff will mentor the Vanderbilt defensive secondary in 2011 under Commodore Head Coach James Franklin. He also serves as the team's defensive recruiting coordinator.
In four years at Miami, McGriff has mentored some of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top defensive backs. He coached former Hurricane All-America Kenny Phillips for two seasons, developing the hard-hitting safety into a 2009 first-round draft pick for the New York Giants.
McGriff has also mentored two other standout defensive backs at Miami: cornerback Brandon Harris and safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. Both Harris and Armstrong were named to second team All-ACC, and many NFL draft evaluators expect Harris to be one of the top cornerbacks taken in the 2011 draft.
McGriff's ability to develop standouts also is evident in former Miami athlete Sam Shields. McGriff molded Shields from a wide receiver to a high-performing senior defensive back. This year, Shields started at cornerback for the Green Bay Packers.
At Miami, McGriff's 2010 secondary played a key role in the Hurricanes' third straight winning season and its
appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The unit helped Miami rank second nationally in pass defense allowing just 164.3 yards per game. Miami also ranked No. 16 nationally in total defense (317.2 ypg) and No. 21 in scoring defense (19.7. ppg). Superb play in the secondary helped the Hurricane defense rank sixth nationally in quarterback sacks.
Before joining the Miami staff, McGriff served four years at Baylor of the Big 12 Conference as recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach. With McGriff's assistance, the Baylor defense notched 16 interceptions and ranked 13th in pass efficiency in 2005. McGriff's ability to recruit also became apparent at Baylor. He was responsible for signing offensive lineman Jason Smith, who left Baylor as an All-America tackle and the No. 2 pick of the 2009 draft.
McGriff also has Southeastern Conference coaching experience, having served the 2001-02 season at the University of Kentucky under Head Coach Guy Morris. He coached the running backs in 2001 and the cornerbacks in 2002. One of McGriff's pupils, Artose Pinner, led the SEC in rushing and played six years in the NFL.
"Wesley McGriff brings a tremendous amount to the Vanderbilt football program," Franklin said. "He has a proven history of successfully coaching young men to their potential. He's also a quality man, and will be a great role model to our student-athletes."
McGriff began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Savannah State, where he coached the Tigers' running backs in 1990 before moving into a full-time role as secondary coach in 1991-92. He then served as Savannah State's defensive coordinator in 1993-94, and he was the team's interim head coach for three months in spring 1993.
From 1995 through 1999, McGriff served as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kentucky State, where his defenses posted numerous top-10 statistical rankings, including leading the nation in total defense in 1995 and pass yardage defense in 1997. In 1998, he was named the American Football Coaches Association's NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year.
McGriff spent the 2000 campaign as the secondary coach at Eastern Kentucky, where he mentored Yeremiah Bell, a first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference pick who went on to be drafted by the Miami Dolphins.
A native of Tifton, Ga., McGriff played cornerback, running back and wide receiver for the Tift County High School state championship team. He played at South Carolina State for one year before transferring to Savannah State, where he started at outside linebacker for three seasons and was named the conference's 1989 Male Academic Athlete of the Year.
He received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, graduating cum laude, from Savannah State in 1990. In 1993, he earned a master's in public administration from Georgia Southern.
McGriff was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1990 and was a member of the Army Reserves until 2001. He and his wife, Karen, have a son, Jaylen.
The McGriff File Personal Information Date of Birth: January 23, 1968 Hometown: Tifton, Ga. Alma Mater: Savannah State (1990) Education: Bachelors, criminal justice, Savannah State (1990) Masters, public administration, Georgia Southern (1993) Family: wife, Karen; son, Jaylen
McGriff's Coaching Career 2007-2010 - University of Miami (defensive backs) 2007 - Kansas State (defensive backs) 2003-2006 - Baylor (cornerbacks/recruiting coordinator) 2002 - Kentucky (cornerbacks) 2001 - Kentucky (running backs) 2000 - Eastern Kentucky (secondary) 1995-1999 - Kentucky State (asst. head coach, defensive coordinator, secondary) 1993-1994 - Savannah State (defensive coordinator) 1991-1992 - Savannah State (secondary) 1990 - Savannah State (graduate assistant)