AUBURN — Dameyune Craig can only imagine the numbers he would have put up if he played in Gus Malzahn’s offense during his time on the Plains.
“It would have fit my strengths,” said Craig, who still holds single-season records for passing yards and completions from his 1997 season.
Craig joined Malzahn’s staff as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach on Jan. 3 after spending three seasons at Florida State.
Before meeting with reporters Thursday, Craig and the rest of the new Auburn coaching staff met Cam Newton, who did set several records under Malzahn during his 2010 Heisman Trophy and BCS National Championship winning season.
“Coach Malzahn said, ‘There he is, Cam. You didn’t break all of his records,’ ” Craig said. “Cam started laughing and said ‘I tried.’ I said: ‘Yeah, I know you did.’ The only reason he didn’t break them is because he didn’t play four quarters all the time.”
Working with Malzahn and the rest of the offensive coaching staff, Craig will try to mentor the next set of Tigers who will take aim at the records books.
He said Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense is the future of the game.
“He’s very innovative. You’ve got to have a plan in life. You have to be ahead of the curve. If you’re not, you get stuck,” Craig said. “You have to see where this game is going in the next three, five, 10 years. This is where it’s going – a fast-paced game, no huddle, putting guys in space and making plays.
“In my opinion, he’s the best at that. He’s leading the way offensively with his philosophy. The stats he’s giving out are mind-boggling. … That’s where the game is going. People want to see points on the board. Athletes want to play in space. They want the ball. I’m excited about learning this offense.”
Craig said when he decided to return to Auburn last week he received an outpouring of “over 100” text messages and communication via social media.
“Guys I hadn’t heard from in a long time were congratulating me. I didn’t know it was that big of a deal as far as former teammates being happy for you,” he said. “It was heart-warming. You feel that. … It’s about the people. That was overwhelming. That made me feel good.
“Having an opportunity to come home and coach for the school that you played for. I look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Though he called Auburn “home,” that he wanted to be on the Plains since he was “13 years old” and is “looking forward to great things - point blank,” Craig did turn down the chance to be at Auburn in December. His name later resurfaced and he eventually took the job last week almost immediately after Florida State defeated Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.
“You know what? All that doesn’t really matter at this point,” Craig said. “It’s a story, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m here. That’s how I look at it. Everything is a process in life. Growth — from baby to an adult. Anything you want is a process. That was just a process. Now I’m here.”