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NMSU football loses (another) assistant to Vanderbilt

Jan. 23—It's never been tougher to keep a staff together.

Just ask New Mexico State.

Only 20 days after head coach Tony Sanchez announced Ghaali Muhammad-Lankford's promotion to offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, Muhammad-Lankford left NMSU to join Vanderbilt as their next run game coordinator and running backs coach. He served in the same capacity with the Aggies over the last two seasons.

"I am excited to announce the addition of Ghaali to our coaching staff," Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea said in a release. "He has spent time in the SEC, has served as a coordinator, and has experience working in Coach Beck's system. All these aspects of his background will help move our program forward."

A former linebacker and running back at Wyoming, Muhammad-Lankford started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Cowboys before working as an offensive assistant with Missouri and FCS Southeast Missouri State's running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

He served as FCS Illinois State's wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator prior to joining the Aggies.

Muhammad-Lankford's departure is only the latest move in a whirlwind staff shuffle that has seen the Aggies lose former head coach Jerry Kill, both coordinators and four assistants from 2023. Muhammad-Lankford, former NMSU offensive coordinator Tim Beck and safeties coach Melvin Rice are set to take on those same roles in Nashville, at SEC school Vanderbilt, while Kill will serve as chief consultant to the head coach and senior offensive analyst for the Commodores.

Nor was Muhammad-Lankford the only coach to leave following a promotion. After Sanchez announced that defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling had been named associate head coach on Jan. 3, ESPN's Pete Thamel reported that Dreiling was set to replace Joe Cauthen in the same role at Utah State just one week later.

Jalen Ortiz — who was formally announced as the Aggies' cornerbacks coach on Jan. 4 — has reportedly followed Dreiling to Utah State. Utah State has not announced either hire, but both coaches referenced joining the program on social media and neither is listed on NMSU's website.

Former NMSU defensive backs coach Cliff Odom was hired as Mississippi State's special teams coordinator on Dec. 18, while former defensive line coach Chuka Ndulue was brought on in the same capacity by Colorado State on Jan. 3.

In addition to Sanchez, NMSU's coaching staff is now comprised of assistant head coach, run game coordinator and offensive line coach Andrew Mitchell; defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Joe Morris; passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tyler Wright; David Cobb, who replaces Muhammad-Lankford as running backs coach; and tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Ronnie Regula.

Sanchez, the Aggies wide receivers coach for the past two seasons, is replacing Kill, who stepped down on Dec. 23 citing a desire to spend more time with family after a "tremendously difficult" season. NMSU finished 10-5 and appeared in the Conference USA title game and Isleta New Mexico Bowl last season.