Georgia Southern adds linebackers coach as Clay Helton continues to build football staff

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  • Clay Helton
    American football coach
  • Dave Aranda
    College football coach

Georgia Southern's new head football coach Clay Helton again has looked to the West Coast — and the University of Washington in particular — for his latest coaching hire.

Aaron Schwanz, a defensive analyst this past season at Washington, has been hired as the Georgia Southern linebackers coach. Schwanz, who also coached at Power 5 programs LSU and Wisconsin, was on the Huskies staff with defensive backs coach Will Harris, who earlier this week became the Eagles' defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

"Aaron brings an elite coaching resume having spent time in the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 conferences," Helton said in a press release. "He has had the opportunity to learn and be trained by Dave Aranda at both Wisconsin and LSU and brings an intimate knowledge of that system. Aaron knows how to win championships, having been a part of the 2019 national championship run at LSU.

"Having served in the Power 5 at multiple stops, he knows how to recruit at the highest level," Helton continued. "We are excited to welcome Aaron to Statesboro and look forward to great things from our linebacker position.”

Aaron Schwanz has been hired as the Georgia Southern linebackers coach.
Aaron Schwanz has been hired as the Georgia Southern linebackers coach.

Helton had said that the defensive coordinator will have a say in who will be hired as defensive assistants. Harris worked with Schwanz as well as defensive line coach Rip Rowan — who reportedly will have the same responsibility in Statesboro.

The defensive line coach job was still vacant Thursday morning, as was wide receivers coach. Helton promised to fill the staff before the football players report Jan. 9.

Schwanz, 37 on Jan. 20, spent the previous four seasons as a defensive analyst, first at LSU from 2018-20 under now Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, and then at Washington last season.

Staff hirings: Georgia Southern hires defensive coordinator, offensive line coach

Schwanz said in the press release that he is honored to be part of the Georgia Southern football "family."

“The high-character leaders on the coaching staff, championship community and the chance to work with elite student-athletes are what makes this opportunity special," Schwanz said in the press release. "I can’t wait to get started!”

In 2021, he was a defensive analyst for the Huskies’ defense that ranked high nationally in numerous categories. While working with the outside linebackers, Schwanz helped Washington rank first in the FBS in the fewest passing yards allowed (1,720), gave up a nation-low six touchdown passes and posted the third-best pass efficiency defense in the country.

At LSU, he served as a defensive analyst for the Tigers during an impressive three-year stretch that included the national championship in 2019.

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A graduate of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2009, Schwanz began his coaching career after his playing days. He then moved that to jobs at Midwestern State and UTEP before earning a spot on Wisconsin’s staff as a graduate assistant coaching outside linebackers in 2013 under Aranda. That year, the Badgers ranked in the top 10 nationally in defense, scoring defense and rushing defense.

Aaron Schwanz was a defensive analyst for the 2021 season at the University of Washington. He is the new linebackers coach at Georgia Southern.
Aaron Schwanz was a defensive analyst for the 2021 season at the University of Washington. He is the new linebackers coach at Georgia Southern.

After one year, Schwanz went to Southeastern Louisiana, where he spent four seasons as the linebackers and special teams coordinator. Schwanz also helped guide a conference championship defense in his first year in 2014.

Prior to the 2016 season, Schwanz added the title of special teams coordinator. The Lions led the Southland Conference and ranked among the national leaders with five blocked kicks (seventh in FCS) and 18.08 yards allowed per kickoff return (20th in FCS).

Schwanz spent the 2013 season at Wisconsin, where he was a graduate assistant working with the Badgers’ outside linebackers. Earlier, Schwanz was a graduate assistant at Texas-El Paso, where he oversaw the wide receivers.

Schwanz also coached linebackers as a graduate assistant at Midwestern State for multiple seasons before moving to UTEP. In 2011, he was part of a staff that led Midwestern State to a 10-0 regular season and the Lone Star Conference championship.

Commentary: Give Clay Helton an opening, and he will seal the deal for Georgia Southern football

Schwanz started his coaching career at his alma mater Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where he coached the secondary. Schwanz earned his degree in special education from UW-Oshkosh in 2009, where he was a four-year letter winner and played in 21 games at safety. He earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Midwestern State in 2016.

He and his wife, Morgan, have three children: Ace, Rosalee and Daisy.

Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor of the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com. Email him at ndominitz@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @NathanDominitz

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Georgia Southern football adds linebackers coach Aaron Schwanz

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