ATLANTA -- Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott announced the additions of former Georgia Tech safeties coach Shiel Wood; Thomas Austin, a former NFL offensive lineman and staff member for the two-time national champion Clemson Tigers; and former Northern Iowa assistant coach Aairon Savage to the Panthers' coaching staff.
Wood will coach the GSU inside linebackers and coordinate the special teams, Austin is the Panthers' offensive line coach, and Savage will coach cornerbacks.
Elliott also announced that Chris Collins, who enters his third season as Georgia State’s safeties coach, has added the title of recruiting coordinator.
More on the new staff members:
Inside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator
Shiel Wood, former assistant coach at Georgia Tech and defensive coordinator at Wofford, has been named Georgia State's inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
Wood is reunited on the GSU defensive staff with defensive coordinator Nate Fuqua, who he succeeded as Wofford's defensive coordinator.
In 2018, Wood coached Georgia Tech's safeties and assisted with special teams, helping the Yellow Jackets to a bowl berth.
As Wofford’s defensive coordinator in 2017, Wood directed a unit that led the Southern Conference in rushing defense (121.7 ypg) while ranking second in the league and No. 26 in FCS in total defense, allowing just 326.7 yards per game. The defensive effort helped lead Wofford to a 10-3 overall record, the outright SoCon championship (7-1 in league play) and an FCS quarterfinal appearance, where the Terriers fell to eventual national champion North Dakota State.
"I've known Shiel for a long time from his days at Wofford and he is an outstanding coach and recruiter," head coach Shawn Elliott said. "He has established recruiting ties here in Atlanta, and it will be great to get him back together to work on the same staff with Nate Fuqua.”
Wood spent a total of eight seasons as an assistant coach at Wofford, coaching the Terriers’ wide receivers (2007-10) and safeties (2011-12; 2016-17) and serving as recruiting coordinator (2016-17) in addition to his one season as defensive coordinator. In his first two years on the defensive side of the ball (2011-12), the Terriers ranked 17th and ninth in the nation in total defense, respectively. As the Terriers’ wide receivers coach (2007-10), he coached two student-athletes who went on to play in the National Football League, including Carolina Panthers wideout Brenton Bersin.
In all, Wofford won four SoCon titles and advanced to the FCS playoffs seven times in Wood’s eight seasons on the Terriers’ staff.
He got his start in coaching in 2006 at Woodruff (S.C.) High School, where he helped lead the Wolverines to a 9-3 record, regional championship and state playoff berth.
Wood, from Spartanburg, S.C., played wide receiver at Wofford from 2001-05 and was the leading receiver on the Terriers’ 2003 squad that won the SoCon championship and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals. He graduated from Wofford in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in government. His wife, Bernadette, was a soccer student-athlete at Wofford. The couple has a daughter, Fay.
Offensive Line Coach
Thomas Austin, a former National Football League offensive lineman and staff member for two-time national champion Clemson, has been named Georgia State's offensive line coach.
Austin spent the last four seasons (2015-18) at Clemson, his alma mater, working with the offensive staff as the Tigers reached the College Football Playoff each year, including titles in 2016 and 2018 and a runner-up finish in 2015. In addition to serving as a video graduate assistant for 2018's title team, he has assisted long-time Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.
A 2009 graduate of Clemson, Austin was an All-America and two-time all-conference lineman who started 38 games for the Tigers from 2006-09. Following his college career, he signed an NFL free agent contract with the New England Patriots in 2010. He played in the NFL with Houston, Carolina and Indianapolis from 2010-13.
"We're thrilled to hire an up-and-coming coach who brings National Championship experience from Clemson and NFL experience as a player," GSU head coach Shawn Elliott said. "He has had a great teacher and mentor for offensive line play in Robbie Caldwell. And he's from Camden, S.C. [Elliott's hometown]."
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney added, "He is one of the best young coaches we've had come through here and has an incredibly bright future in the coaching profession. He is well-prepared to run his own room. They made a great hire - I can't wait to see him do great things at Georgia State."
Aairon Savage joins the Georgia State staff as cornerbacks coach after one season in the same role at Northern Iowa. He has previously worked on the coaching staffs at Army, Georgia Tech and his alma mater, Auburn, as well as Georgia prep power Valdosta High School and Arkansas Tech.
Savage coached the UNI cornerbacks in his one season there, helping the program to a berth in the 2018 FCS playoffs and three victories over Top 25 teams. The Panthers ranked No. 6 in FCS with 18 interceptions and No. 17 nationally in scoring defense.
In 2017, he was part of a 10-win season at Army, where he served as a defensive quality control coach. The Black Knights won eight of their final nine games, capped by a victory over San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Savage spent two seasons (2015-16) as the defensive backs coach at Division II Arkansas Tech, highlighted by a nine-win campaign and bowl victory in 2015.
His previous two years were spent in Georgia. He served as a defensive graduate assistant at Georgia Tech in 2014, working on the defensive side with primary responsibility for the safeties as the Yellow Jackets capped a 10-3 season with an Orange Bowl victory.
In 2013, Savage was an assistant coach at Valdosta High School, where he coached the cornerbacks while teaching ninth grade. The Wildcats earned a berth in the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs.
Prior to that, he served two years in a quality control position on the staff at Auburn, spending one year each with special teams (2012) and defense (2011).
Savage was a Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-American (Rivals) defensive back in for Auburn in 2016. He missed the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to injuries, and during the Tigers’ national title season of 2010, he started the first seven games suffering before another season-ending injury.
Savage earned his bachelor's degree in exercise science from Auburn in 2008 before completing a master’s in biomechanics in 2010. He is married to the former Coleigh Danielle Brock.