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Falcons hire Gainesville grad Thacker as def. assistant
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The Atlanta Falcons today announced they have promoted Mark Collins to outside linebackers coach and hired Andrew Thacker, a Gainesville High graduate, as a defensive assistant.

Thacker, the step-son of Red Elephants football coach Bruce Miller, joins the Falcons after one season as the safeties coach at Southern Mississippi. Prior joining the Golden Eagles, he spent three seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Oklahoma State.

While with the Cowboys, Thacker assisted with the development of the linebacker corps, including Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis to All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors in 2012.

Thacker spent two seasons in the same role at the University of Central Florida after playing safety for four years at Furman University.

Collins has served as a defensive assistant and worked with the defensive line for the past four seasons.

Under his guidance, the defensive line produced 21 of Atlanta’s 32 sacks last season, including career highs from DT Corey Peters (5.0) and DE Jonathan Massaquoi (4.0).

The Falcons defensive line was also responsible for 30 of the club’s 55 tackles for loss in 2013.

Prior to his arrival in Atlanta, Collins was an assistant coach, working with the safeties at the University of Louisiana-Monroe in 2009.

The Warhawks defense allowed an average of 236.9 passing yards a game while totaling 13 interceptions during his lone year at the school.

In 2007, Collins served as a graduate assistant at the University of Georgia where the Bulldogs were ranked second in the final Associated Press college football poll.

Collins spent the 2006 season as the linebackers coach at Georgia Southern after one season as the defensive coordinator at Elon University. 

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