Last of Tuberville's staff heads to Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama coach Nick Saban has hired James Willis, a top assistant and recruiter at cross-state rival Auburn, to be the Crimson Tide's linebackers coach and to bolster the recruiting team.

Saban also hired Carolina Panthers defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, a college star at Pittsburgh, to join Willis in coaching linebackers.

Willis, an All-SEC linebacker at Auburn who played seven seasons in the NFL, has been with Auburn since 2006.

The Huntsville native will be an associate head coach at Alabama and fill the vacancy created when another Tide rival, Tennessee, hired Lance Thompson, a key Alabama recruiter and linebackers coach.

Willis said Saban is "one of the best defensive coaches in the game, and this is a chance to gain some great experience and learn from the best."

Sunseri, who has coached the Panthers defensive line since 2003, worked for Saban at LSU in 2000.

He also once coached at Alabama A&M.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)