Aughtry-Lindsay Excited to 'Give Something Back' to NC State
Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay has made walk from the Murphy Center to the practice field adjacent to Carter-Finley Stadium enough times that he could probably do it with his eyes closed.
Those eyes, however, figure to be wide with excitement Thursday when he retraces his steps for the first time in a decade on the opening day of NC State's spring football practice.
The former Wolfpack linebacker has returned to his alma mater as its new nickels coach. After serving an apprenticeship at several smaller schools around the state, he can't wait to start helping the school he loves start winning games again.
"It's good to be back at a place where you put a lot of roots in and had a lot of great experiences," he said last week at a pre-spring meet-and-greet with the media. "It's been an awesome experience. I'm just excited to give something back to a place that gave me so much."
A two-year starter and four-year letterwinner for the Wolfpack from 2001-04, Aughtry-Lindsay was a key member of a State team that led the nation in total defense his senior season.
The former four-star linebacker finished his career with 266 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. In a 2003 win against UConn, he scored two defensive touchdowns -- a 48-yard fumble recovery and a game-winning 56-yard interception return. It was a performance that helped him earn both ACC and national Player of the Week honors.
That experience and the success he had on the field with the Wolfpack weighed heavily in coach Dave Doeren's decision to bring Aughtry-Lindsay back as part of his revamped defensive staff and to help State rebound from last year's 4-8 disappointment.
"Having a graduate on our staff is something I've always liked," Doeren said. "It gives you, like (strength and conditioning coach Dantonio "Thunder" Burnette) in the weight room, a perspective that they can bring, not just to the players but in recruiting when talking to moms and dads, because they have that experience."
Aughtry-Lindsay brings much more to Doeren's staff than just his experience at State. He's also built a solid resume as he's risen through the coaching ranks since starting out as a graduate assistant with the Wolfpack in 2008.
A native of High Point, he has 11 seasons of college coaching experience, including a Power Five stop at Ole Miss in 2018, where he worked as a senior player personnel analyst.
He has also had stops at Campbell, where he coordinated the run game and defense while coaching linebackers, Elon, St. Augustine's and Slippery Rock. His most recent assignment was as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at NC Central.
Although he never played the position he now coaches, Aughtry-Lindsay said that because of the way the game has evolved in recent years, there are a lot of similarities between linebacker and nickel.
"Offenses have changed a little since when I played," he said. "They were kind of growing into being more of a spread at that time. Me being an outside linebacker, I got to play kind of a nickel position, covering the slot receiver, covering the tight end. Things like that.
"(Nickel) has some linebacker in it because you blitz and you play some in the box. But the other part of it is you have to play some safety aspect. It's more of a hybrid position."
Opposing offenses aren't the only things that have changed since the last time Aughtry-Lindsay was at State.
"Coach Doeren and his staff have done a lot as far as the aesthetics of the building and things like that," he said of the Murphy Center, which was completed in time for his junior season with the Wolfpack. "It's changed a lot, but it's still the Murph to me."
With only two scholarship nickels heading into spring practice -- junior Tyler Baker-Williams, who played in all 12 games last season with three starts, recording 39 tackles, a sack and three pass breakups, and redshirt freshman Jalen Frazier -- Aughtry-Lindsay will have some coaching to do while trying to develop others to add depth to the position.
It's a challenge he plans to take on the same kind of aggressivness and passion which which it took on opposing ballcarriers.
"It means a lot. It means a lot to my family," he said. "It's just awesome. I'm really enjoying it. I just want to coach and put these guys in the best position possible to be successful."