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2022 coach series: Rising-star assistants you need to know

Matt Zenitz06/15/22
Article written by:On3 imageMatt Zenitz

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(Photos of Houston's Doug Belk, UCF's Travis Williams, Alabama's Holmon Wiggins and Tennessee's Alex Golesh provided by their respective schools; graphic by Marina Puhalj/On3)

We’re in the midst of the On3 coach series. Here’s the latest installment: 2022 rising-star assistants you need to know.

In compiling the list, On3 Senior National College Football Reporter Matt Zenitz gathered votes and feedback from more than 100 people in the coaching world – including head coaches, coordinators and team officials – to identify rising-star assistants who are on track to garner interest for bigger jobs this next coaching cycle. 

The 65 coaches who came up most and received the best overall feedback made the list.

A note: We didn’t include coaches who were on the 2021 rising-star assistants list.

Rising-star assistants A-G

Rice running backs coach CJ Anderson

Recent jobs: Rice (2022), Danville (Calif.) Monta Vista High coach (2021), California volunteer coach (2020)
+ In his first year at Rice after serving as a high school coach. Led Monta Vista to a 7-3 record and a playoff berth last year.
+ Got into coaching in 2020 as a volunteer assistant at Cal, where he worked with current Rice OC Marques Tuiasosopo.
+ Former NFL running back who played seven seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions. Had 3,497 career rushing yards, including 720 for the Broncos’ 2015 Super Bowl team and 1,007 in 2017.

Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Bobby April

Recent jobs: Wisconsin (2018-present), Buffalo Bills linebackers coach (2015-16), New York Jets linebackers coach (2014)
+ Helped Wisconsin rank first nationally in total defense last season and fifth in 2020.
+ Is defensive run game coordinator for the Badgers, who ranked first nationally in run defense last season.
+ Interviewed for the Michigan defensive coordinator job before the Wolverines hired Jesse Minter.
+ Under April, Wisconsin outside linebacker Nick Herbig has developed into one of the Big Ten’s most productive pass rushers.
+ April’s father, Bobby, was an NFL assistant from 1991-2016 and was NFL special teams coach of the year in 2004 and 2008 while working with the Buffalo Bills.

Ole Miss co-OC/tight ends coach John David Baker

Recent jobs: Ole Miss (2021-present), USC tight ends coach (2020), USC analyst (2019), North Texas analyst (2016-18)
+ Has worked with some of the game’s top offensive minds (coaches such as Lane Kiffin, Jeff Lebby, Seth Littrell and Graham Harrell) and has been around two of the offensive systems most emulated at the college level – the Air Raid and Art Briles’ Baylor offense.
+ Helped Ole Miss rank sixth nationally in total offense last season.
+ Promoted to co-coordinator this offseason.
+ Was a factor in Ole Miss landing two USC transfers, quarterback Jaxson Dart and tight end Michael Trigg. Both had relationships with Baker from his time as a Trojans assistant.
+ Played quarterback under current McNeese State coach and former Texas OC Sterlin Gilbert in high school (Lake View in San Angelo, Texas) and current Florida State tight ends coach Chris Thomsen in college (Abilene Christian). Threw for 3,376 yards, set a school record with 40 total touchdowns and threw only five interceptions as a senior at Abilene Christian in 2013.

Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk

Recent jobs: Houston (2021-present), Houston co-DC/safeties coach (2019-20), West Virginia cornerbacks coach (2017-18), Alabama graduate assistant (2014-16)
+ In his first season as DC, Belk transformed Houston from 55th nationally in total defense in 2020 into a unit that ranked sixth nationally in total defense, first in third-down defense, sixth in sacks and 25th in takeaways last season.
+ Was a Broyles Award semifinalist.
+ Was a target for multiple Power 5 defensive coordinator jobs but signed a contract extension with the Cougars.
+ Has been with Dana Holgorsen since 2017, starting as Holgorsen’s cornerbacks coach at West Virginia before continued advancement at Houston from co-DC in 2019 to associate head coach in 2020 to DC last year.
+ Belk was a defensive backs graduate assistant at Alabama, learning under and working closely with coaches such as Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Mel Tucker and current Los Angeles Chargers defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley.

Virginia Tech OC/tight ends coach Tyler Bowen

Recent jobs: Virginia Tech (2022), Jacksonville Jaguars tight ends coach (2021), Penn State co-OC/tight ends coach (2020), Penn State tight ends coach (2018-19), Maryland offensive line coach (2017), Fordham OC (2016)
+ Back at the college level after a year in the NFL, reuniting with new Virginia Tech coach and former Penn State colleague Brent Pry.
+ Was offensive recruiting coordinator at Penn State in addition to his responsibilities as co-OC and tight ends coach, and was part of the Nittany Lions compiling three consecutive top-20 classes, including the nation’s 10th-best class in 2019.
+ Served as offensive coordinator at Fordham in 2016. The Rams ranked fourth in the FCS in scoring offense (40.1 points per game) and total offense (498 yards per game).
+ Is a former Maryland offensive lineman who played and then began his coaching career for the Terrapins under Ralph Friedgen and current Penn State coach James Franklin, who was Maryland’s OC from 2008-10.

Cincinnati wide receivers coach Mike Brown

Recent jobs: Cincinnati (2019-present), Liberty running backs coach (2018), Delaware running backs coach (2017), Michigan analyst (2016)
+ Has produced an all-conference receiver each of the past two seasons. The one from last season, Alec Pierce, was a second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in this year’s NFL draft.
+ Was promoted to pass-game coordinator earlier this year.
+ Is a former NFL wide receiver who spent three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars after twice winning Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback at Liberty. He had 32 catches, 446 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars in 2013.

Utah wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis

Recent jobs: Utah (2021-present), Austin Peay wide receivers coach (2019-20), Utah graduate assistant (2018), Buffalo graduate assistant (2017)
+ Former Mississippi State receiver who ranks first in school history in career receiving touchdowns (24) and single-season receiving touchdowns (12). Was a second-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2012.
+ Had NFL stints with the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars.
+ Returned to Utah staff last year after working for the Utes as a graduate assistant in 2018. Had been set to be wide receivers coach at Central Michigan before being offered the job at Utah.
+ Under Bumphis, Austin Peay wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson led the FCS ranks with 1,564 receiving yards in 2019.

UConn offensive coordinator Nick Charlton

Recent jobs: UConn (2022), Maine coach (2019-21), Maine OC (2018), Maine wide receivers coach (2015-17), Boston College graduate assistant (2012-14)
+ Led Maine to a 14-13 as head coach, including a 6-5 record last season. Guided the Black Bears to a 35-10 win over UMass, which was the largest margin of victory for an FCS team over an FBS opponent last season, and to their first road win over rival New Hampshire since 2001.
+ Remained Maine’s offensive play-caller during his three seasons as coach and produced six All-CAA selections on offense last season. The Black Bears ranked second in the conference in passing during the 2021 spring season.
+ Worked with coaches such as Ryan Day at Boston College and current Los Angeles Rams OC Liam Coen and Rutgers DC Joe Harasymiak at Maine. Replaced Coen as Maine’s OC, then Harasymiak as coach.
+ In Charlton’s first season as OC in 2018, the Black Bears posted their best scoring offense since 2013 (26.5 points per game), won the CAA championship and advanced to the FCS semifinals for the first time in school history.

Colorado defensive line coach Gerald Chatman

Recent jobs: Colorado (2022), LSU analyst (2021), Cincinnati Bengals defensive assistant (2019-20), Tennessee State defensive end/linebackers coach/special teams coach (2017-18)
+ Impressed 2021 LSU staff while contributing as an analyst.
+ Was set to be retained by new LSU coach Brian Kelly but took a job as the defensive line coach at Tulane before the opportunity came about at Colorado.
+ Before LSU, Chatman worked with the linebacker and defensive line groups with the Bengals, including assisting with eight-time Pro Bowl selection Geno Atkins, two-time Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap and productive younger players such as Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson. Aided by Chatman, Hubbard – a 2018 third-round pick – broke out as a second-year player in 2019 and had 76 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
+ While with the Bengals, Chatman worked closely with coaches like current Clemson defensive line coach Nick Eason.
+ Coached Myles Garrett as a graduate assistant at A&M in 2015.

Ole Miss co-DC/inside linebackers coach Maurice Crum

Recent jobs: Ole Miss (2022), Western Kentucky DC (2021), Western Kentucky co-DC/linebackers coach (2020), Western Kentucky linebackers coach (2017-19), Indiana State cornerbacks coach (2016), Notre Dame graduate assistant (2015)
+ Led defenses at Western Kentucky that ranked third in Conference USA in defensive yards per play in 2020 and sixth last season.
+ His defense held seven of the Hilltoppers’ final eight opponents last season to 21 or fewer points.
+ Helped Western Kentucky edge rusher DeAngelo Malone win two Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year awards and become a 2022 third-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons.
+ Is a former Notre Dame star linebacker who made 42 consecutive starts for the Fighting Irish.
+ A two-time team captain at Notre Dame.
+ Heavily pursued for an NFL linebackers coach job this job cycle.
+ Was on the radar for multiple other SEC teams before landing at Ole Miss.

Georgia Southern wide receivers coach Marcus Davis

Recent jobs: Georgia Southern (2022), Hawaii wide receivers coach (2021), Florida State graduate assistant (2020), Auburn assistant director of player personnel and player development (2019), Auburn analyst (2018)
+ Former Auburn wide receiver who had 83 career catches for the Tigers, including 23 as a freshman for Auburn’s 2013 team that won the SEC and lost to Florida State in the national championship game.
+ Was a team captain for the Tigers in 2016.
+ Got his first assistant opportunity at Hawaii last year after contributing as a graduate assistant, analyst and support staffer at Florida State and Auburn. Oversaw a group that included second-team All-Mountain West selection Calvin Turner.

Akron defensive line coach Winston DeLattiboudere

Recent jobs: Akron (2022), Oregon graduate assistant (2021), Charlotte graduate assistant (2020)
+ Made the move to Akron with Joe Moorhead after being part of Mario Cristobal’s staff at Oregon last season.
+ Assisted with an Oregon defensive line group that featured three first-team All-Pac 12 selections, including New York Giants first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux.
+ Is just 24 years old.
+ Was a four-year contributor along the defensive line at Minnesota (2016-19). Made 36 career starts and finished with career totals of 83 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Boston College linebackers coach Sean Duggan

Recent jobs: Boston College (2020-present), Ohio State graduate assistant (2019), UMass linebackers coach (2018), Hawaii linebackers coach (2016-17)
+ Was part of Jeff Hafley’s original BC staff after serving as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2019, when Hafley was the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
+ Was a linebacker and team captain at Boston College as a player, finishing his Eagles career with 115 tackles.
+ Has worked with respected defensive coaches like Hafley, Don Brown and current Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington. Played under Brown his final two seasons at Boston College, then began his coaching career under Brown as a graduate assistant for the Eagles in 2015.
+ Helped UMass linebacker Bryton Barr win Conference Defensive Player of the Year during his one season at UMass in 2018, then had two of the ACC’s four leading tacklers (Isaiah McDuffie and Max Richardson) as a first-year assistant at Boston College in 2020.

UCLA tight ends coach Jeff Faris

Recent jobs: UCLA (2022), Duke co-OC/QB coach (2021), Duke tight ends coach (2018-20), Duke wide receivers coach (2014-17), Duke graduate assistant (2012-13)
+ A former Duke safety who spent the past 10 seasons on the Blue Devils’ coaching staff under David Cutcliffe, working up from graduate assistant to offensive play-caller last season.
+ Coached three offensive position groups at Duke – quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends – and has worked with players such as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Noah Gray, a 2021 Kansas City Chiefs fifth-round draft pick.
+ Also served as the Blue Devils’ offensive recruiting coordinator from 2017-20.
+ Was the 2018 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FBS Assistant Coach of the Year, which is presented annually to coaches who “excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.”

2022-rising-star-assistants-you-need-to-know-matt-zenitz-coach-series
Billy Fessler, a former quarterback at Penn State, is entering his first season as offensive coordinator at Akron. (Courtesy of Akron Athletics)

Akron quarterbacks coach Billy Fessler

Recent jobs: Akron (2022), Ohio State graduate assistant (2020-21), Mississippi State graduate assistant (2019), Slippery Rock graduate assistant (2018)
+ Is a former Penn State quarterback and Dean’s List student who played under Joe Moorhead with the Nittany Lions. Then worked under Moorhead as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State and is reunited with him at Akron. Earned a scholarship at Penn State after joining the Nittany Lions as a walk-on.
+ Also has the role of co-pass game coordinator in addition to being the Zips’ quarterbacks coach.
+ Spent the past two seasons as Ohio State’s wide receivers graduate assistant under Buckeyes wide receivers coach Brian Hartline. Assisted with a group that included two 2022 first-round draft picks – Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson – and potential 2023 first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
+ Started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Division II Slippery Rock in 2018.

Ohio State offensive line coach Justin Frye

Recent jobs: Ohio State (2022), UCLA OC/offensive line coach (2019-21), UCLA offensive line coach (2018), Boston College offensive line coach (2013-17)
+ Was UCLA’s offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly the past three seasons and contributed to the Bruins improving from eighth in the Pac-12 in total offense in 2018 and seventh in 2019 to second each of the past two seasons.
+ Recruited and coached UCLA offensive tackle Sean Rhyan, who was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection last season and a third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers.
+ The move to Ohio State reunited him with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, whom he first teamed with as a colleague at Temple (2012) and then for two seasons at Boston College (2013-14).
+ Is also the Buckeyes’ associate head coach for offense.
+ Was a starting offensive lineman at Indiana and set a Hoosiers record with 45 consecutive starts.

Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn

Recent jobs: Virginia Tech (2022), Georgia State OC (2019-21), Western Carolina OC (2012-18), Appalachian State assistant (2005-11)
+ Was an offensive coordinator the past 10 seasons at Georgia State and Western Carolina.
+ Improved Georgia State from ninth in the Sun Belt in scoring offense in 2018 to sixth in 2019 and fourth each of the past two seasons, including a school-record 33.3 points per game in 2020.
+ Of the top six players in career total yardage in the history of the FCS Southern Conference, three are former Glenn quarterbacks – Armanti Edwards (Appalachian State) and Tyree Adams and Troy Mitchell (Western Carolina).
+ Interviewed for a Power 5 OC job two coaching cycles ago and was contacted about an AAC OC job this past cycle.

Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh

Recent jobs: Tennessee (2021-present), UCF co-OC/tight ends coach (2020), Iowa State tight ends coach (2016-19)
+ Is Tennessee’s offensive play-caller and helped the Vols go from 102nd nationally in total offense to ninth last season.
+ Previously the co-OC for a UCF offense that ranked second nationally in 2020.
+ Worked under Matt Campbell at Iowa State and is entering his third season under Josh Heupel.
+ Has garnered interest for multiple Group of 5 head-coaching jobs in the past two coaching cycles. Also turned down two Power 5 OC jobs this past cycle.

UTSA running backs coach Julian Griffin

Recent jobs: UTSA (2020-present), Arkansas quality control coach (2018-19), SMU quality control coach (2017), Central Methodist wide receivers coach/special teams coordinator (2016)
+ Helped Sincere McCormick win Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors the last two years. McCormick jumped from 983 yards in 2019 to 1,467 yards, 11 TDs and 5.9 yards per attempt in 2020 in his first season under Griffin, then to 1,479 yards, which ranked seventh-best nationally, and 15 touchdowns last season.
+ Recently landed Arkansas running back transfer Trelon Smith, who rushed for 1,308 yards and 10 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
+ Left a full-time assistant job at NAIA Central Methodist (Mo.) to take a volunteer job at SMU in 2017. Then went to Arkansas as a volunteer in 2018 before being promoted to an analyst job in 2019 and then being hired as Jeff Traylor’s running backs coach at UTSA in 2020. He also worked with Traylor at SMU and Arkansas.

Rising-star assistants H-M

Virginia wide receivers coach Marques Hagans

Recent jobs: Virginia wide receivers (2013-present), Virginia graduate assistant (2011-12)
+ Helped Virginia rank No. 1 among Power 5 teams in passing offense last season (392.6 yards per game).
+ Under Hagans, Dontayvion Wicks has developed into one of the nation’s top wide receivers. Wicks, an early-round NFL prospect, had a school-record 1,203 receiving yards last season. Has also contributed to the evolution of Keytaon Thompson, a converted quarterback who was a second-team All-ACC selection as a receiver last season.
+ Four of the top six receivers in Virginia history in career catches have been coached by Hagans, including school record-holder and current Atlanta Falcon Olamide Zaccheaus.
+ Hagans’ wide receivers have garnered All-ACC honors five times in the past five seasons, including first-team recognition for Wicks (2021), Joe Reed (2019) and Zaccheaus (2018).
+ Was the lead recruiter on four-star freshman wide receiver Dakota Twitty, the highest ranked player in the Cavaliers’ 2022 recruiting class.
+ Was a starting quarterback at Virginia who played six seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver with the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins. Was a 2006 fifth-round pick of the Rams.

Oklahoma safeties coach Brandon Hall

Recent jobs: Oklahoma (2022), Troy DC (2019-21), Troy outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2018), Jacksonville State DC (2014-17)
+ Led the way as Troy improved from 99th nationally in total defense in 2019 to 61st in 2020 and then 24th nationally and first in the Sun Belt last season.
+ Jacksonville State ranked in the top 20 in the FCS in total defense in each of Hall’s four seasons, including second nationally in 2017.
+ Is an Oklahoma native who started off his coaching career under Brent Venables in 1998. Spent eight seasons under Venables then as a student assistant, graduate assistant and quality control coach before returning to Oklahoma as an analyst under Venables in 2011. He was hired as the Sooners’ safeties coach after Venables was hired as Oklahoma’s coach this offseason.

Tulane defensive coordinator Chris Hampton

Recent jobs: Tulane (2021-present), Duke cornerbacks coach (2020), Tulane defensive backs coach (2016-19), McNeese State defensive backs coach (2012-15)
+ With Hampton as the position coach, Tulane had cornerbacks drafted three consecutive years – Parry Nickerson in 2018, Donnie Lewis in 2019 and BoPete Keys in 2020. Another Hampton-coached cornerback from Tulane, Roderic Teamer, has been a contributor for the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.
+ Led by Hampton’s secondary, Tulane set an NCAA record with 20 passes defended in a 2018 win over ECU and tied with Oregon for first nationally during that season with 6.77 passes defended per game.
+ Returned to Tulane as DC last year after a season as the cornerbacks coach at Duke.
+ Former two-year starter at safety for South Carolina who also won an award given to the Gamecocks’ player with the highest GPA.

Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley

Recent jobs: Georgia (2019-present), Miami tight ends coach (2016-18), Georgia director of player personnel (2015), Marshall tight ends coach (2013-14), Marshall safeties coach (2011-12)
+ The leader of one of the most talented tight groups in recent college football history. 
+ Landed Brock Bowers as a recruit, then helped Bowers develop into a second-team All-American as a freshman last season.
+ Has been the lead recruiter on eight other four-star-or-better signees at Georgia and Miami since 2018.
+ Has received interest for jobs with multiple other top programs in recent years.
+ Was in the mix for the Marshall coaching job after the 2020 season before the Thundering Herd hired Charles Huff.

Cincinnati co-DC/safeties coach Colin Hitschler

Recent jobs: Cincinnati (2020-present), Cincinnati analyst (2018-19), South Alabama safeties coach (2017), South Alabama director of football operations (2015-16)
+ Aided by Hitschler and his safety group, Cincinnati was second nationally in pass defense, third in interceptions and fifth in scoring defense last season.
+ Promoted to co-coordinator this offseason.
+ Has had a first-team All-AAC safety each of the past two seasons: James Wiggins in 2020 and Bryan Cook last season.
+ Former South Alabama safety Jeremy Reaves was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year under Hitschler in 2017.

Iowa tight ends coach Abdul Hodge

Recent jobs: Iowa (2022), South Dakota outside linebackers coach (2019-21)
+ Former Iowa team captain and All-American linebacker for Kirk Ferentz who now is part of Ferentz’s Hawkeyes coaching staff.
+ Was a 2006 third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers and played five seasons in the NFL with the Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers.
+ Spent the past three seasons as the outside linebackers coach and NFL liaison at FCS South Dakota. Helped the Coyotes beat three top-16 teams last season and qualify for the FCS playoffs for just the second time in school history.
+ Was a coaching intern for the Tennessee Titans before heading to South Dakota.

Penn State tight ends coach Ty Howle

Recent jobs: Penn State (2021-present), Penn State analyst (2020), Western Illinois co-OC/offensive line coach (2018-19), Western Illinois offensive line coach (2016-17)
+ Howle’s tight end group had six touchdown catches last season.
+ Has landed commitments from two Class of 2023 tight ends, including four-star Andrew Rappleyea. Was lead recruiter on Penn State four-star freshman tight end Jerry Cross and a secondary recruiter on five-star freshman edge rusher Dani Dennis-Sutton.
+ Was promoted to tight ends coach last year after a season as a Penn State analyst working under offensive line coach Phil Trautwein as well as then-Nittany Lions tight ends coach/current Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen.
+ Former Penn State offensive lineman who was a team captain as a senior in 2013.
+ Was recruiting coordinator at Western Illinois. Also served as the team’s play-caller in 2018, overseeing a unit that ranked 21st in the FCS in total offense.
+ Began his coaching career as an offensive line graduate assistant at NC State in 2014 and helped current Kansas City Chiefs guard Joe Thuney become the school’s first All-American offensive lineman since 1979.

Baylor running backs coach Justin Johnson

Recent jobs: Baylor (2020-present), Houston running backs coach (2019), Kansas wide receivers coach (2018), Kansas analyst (2016-17)
+ Aided by Johnson, Baylor went from last in the Big 12 in rushing in 2020 to first in the conference and second among Power 5 teams in rushing offense last season (219.7 yards per game).
+ Helped Abram Smith move back to running back from linebacker and set Bears single-season records with 1,601 rushing yards in 2021. Also got 1,083 scrimmage yards from another running back, Trestan Ebner, who became the first player in Bears history with at least 1,000 career rushing yards to go along with at least 1,000 receiving yards.
+ Former Houston wide receiver who was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a senior in 2011, catching 87 passes for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns as part of an offense led by quarterback Case Keenum that ranked No. 1 nationally.
+ Has been around some respected offensive coaches, including Kevin Sumlin, Kliff Kingsbury and Dana Holgorsen. Played under Sumlin at Houston and then worked for him as a grad assistant at Texas A&M. Also played under Holgorsen at Houston, then worked under him as Houston’s running backs coach in 2019.
+ Received interest from two Power 5 schools regarding co-coordinator jobs this offseason.

TCU running backs coach Anthony Jones

Recent jobs: TCU (2022), Memphis running backs coach (2018-21), Cordova (Tenn.) High coach (2013-16)
+ Produced four NFL draft picks at running back in a three-year span at Memphis. All four went in the first five rounds of the draft and are contributing for their teams – Darrell Henderson (Los Angeles Rams), Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys), Antonio Gibson (Washington Commanders) and Kenneth Gainwell (Philadelphia Eagles).
+ Was also Memphis’ recruiting coordinator.
+ Helped Memphis break school single-season records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2018.
+ Led Cordova High to its first winning record in nine years in his first season as coach in 2013. He posted a school-record 12 wins in 2016 and an 8-3 mark in his final season at Cordova in 2017.

Ole Miss defensive line coach Randall Joyner

Recent jobs: Ole Miss (2021-present), SMU defensive line coach (2018-20), Ohio State graduate assistant (2016-17)
+ Credited with playing a big role in the development of Sam Williams, a second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys who went from four sacks for Ole Miss in 2020 to 12.5 last season.
+ Aided by Joyner, the Rebels ranked third in the SEC in sacks last season and improved defensively by nearly 100 yards per game (from allowing 519 yards per game in 2020 to 420 last season).
+ Ole Miss won a three-way battle for his services in 2020, beating out LSU and SMU, who tried to keep him with a promotion and raise.
+ Helped SMU tie for first nationally in sacks in 2019 (3.92 per game) and had an All-AAC selection in defensive end Delontae Scott, who tallied 10 sacks.
+ Worked under Larry Johnson for two seasons as a defensive line graduate assistant at Ohio State.
+ Former SMU starting linebacker who recorded 240 career tackles, including a team-high 98 as a senior in 2013.

2022-rising-star-assistants-you-need-to-know-matt-zenitz-coach-series
Malcolm Kelly, a former standout receiver at Oklahoma, is entering his fourth season at TCU. (Courtesy of TCU Athletics)

TCU outside receivers coach Malcolm Kelly

Recent jobs: TCU (2019-present), Houston analyst (2018), Houston graduate assistant (2017), Texas A&M-Commerce analyst (2016)
+ Was retained by new TCU coach Sonny Dykes.
+ The lead recruiter on TCU four-star freshman wide receiver DJ Allen and Class of 2023 four-star Horned Frogs wide receiver commit Cordale Russell.
+ Helped former top-100 recruit Quentin Johnston set a school record with an average of 22.1 yards per catch as a freshman in 2020. Last season, Johnston led the Horned Frogs with 612 receiving yards and six receiving TDs while ranking second in the Big 12 in yards per catch (18.5).
+ Also coached former TCU receiver Jaelen Reagor, a 2020 first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.
+ Kelly is a former Oklahoma star wide receiver who was a 2008 second-round pick of the Washington Redskins. Had 144 catches and 21 touchdowns in three seasons with the Sooners.

Arkansas offensive line coach Cody Kennedy

Recent jobs: Arkansas (2021-present), Tulane offensive line coach (2019-20), Georgia graduate assistant (2018), West Georgia offensive line coach (2016-17)
+ Has risen from being an FCS walk-on offensive lineman at Southeastern Louisiana and a Division II assistant at UNC-Pembroke and West Georgia to – just five years removed from working at the Division II level – being viewed as one of the nation’s top offensive line coaches.
+ Was hired by Sam Pittman at Arkansas last year after previously working under Pittman as a grad assistant at Georgia in 2018. 
+ Was a Broyles Award semifinalist last season.
+ Contributed to Arkansas leading the SEC in rushing (228 yards per game) and cutting down on its sacks allowed from 3.4 per game in 2020 to 2.3 last season.
+ Landed a commitment from four-star offensive lineman Luke Brown in April.
+ Was of interest to Georgia for its offensive line coach opening. Opted to remain at Arkansas under Pittman and received a new contract that included a $300,000 raise (from $400,000 to $700,000).

Virginia offensive coordinator Des Kitchings

Recent jobs: Virginia (2022), Atlanta Falcons running backs coach (2021), South Carolina running backs coach (2020), NC State running backs coach (2012-19)
+ Returned to college from the NFL to work with longtime friend Tony Elliott.
+ Helped Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson post career-highs in rushing yards (618) and rushing touchdowns (six) after he had 232 or fewer yards in each of the previous three seasons. Patterson also had 52 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns.
+ Contributed to the development of New England Patriots 2022 seventh-round pick Kevin Harris, who had a breakout season under Kitchings at South Carolina in 2020. Ran for 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns after accumulating just 179 yards in 2019.
+ Was co-OC at NC State in 2019 in addition to being running backs coach.
+ Kitchings produced three consecutive 1,000-yard rushers at NC State (2016-18) after the school had gone without a 1,000-yard rusher since 2002. One was current Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines, who evolved under Kitchings into a first-team All-ACC selection and 2018 fourth-round pick of the Colts.
+ Was a standout wide receiver and return specialist at Furman and became the youngest inductee into the Furman Athletics Hall of Fame. Was a 2000 seventh-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Texas Tech offensive coordinator Zach Kittley

Recent jobs: Texas Tech (2022), Western Kentucky OC (2021), Houston Baptist (2018-20), Texas Tech graduate assistant (2015-17)
+ Transformed Western Kentucky from 120th nationally in total offense (290.3 yards per game) in 2020 to second last season (536.2 yards per game).
+ Was behind the development of quarterback Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots. Zappe played under Kittley at FCS Houston Baptist, then joined him at Western Kentucky and broke FBS single-season records for passing yards (5,967) and passing touchdowns (62).
+ Under Kittley, Houston Baptist posted at least 31 points in each of its three games against FBS opponents in 2020, including a 35-33 loss to Texas Tech. In four games that season, Zappe threw for 1,833 yards (458.3 per game) with 15 touchdown passes and one interception.
+ Started off his coaching career working at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury as a student intern (2013-14) and a quarterback graduate assistant (2015-17). Worked with Patrick Mahomes during his final two seasons at Texas Tech.
+ Received interest for at least four Power 5 offensive coordinator jobs this past coaching cycle.

Coastal Carolina co-OC/quarterbacks coach Willy Korn

Recent jobs: Coastal Carolina (2017-present), Charleston Southern wide receivers coach (2013-16)
+ Coaches Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, who has been the Sun Belt Player of the Year each of the past two seasons.
+ Aided by Korn, Coastal Carolina’s offense has improved every year– from 106th nationally in total offense in 2017, to 87th in 2018, to 73rd in 2019 to 25th in 2020 to fourth last season.
+ Has worked with Coastal’s quarterbacks since 2019 after two seasons as the team’s wide receivers coach and kickoff unit coordinator.
+ Has worked under Jamey Chadwell at Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina after playing for him as a quarterback at Division II North Greenville (S.C.).
+ Transferred to North Greenville from Clemson, where he signed was a top-100 recruit. Was a Division II All-American in 2011.

Tulsa wide receivers/special teams coach Calvin Lowry

Recent jobs: Tulsa (2015-present), Baylor assistant director of football operations (2013-14), Baylor graduate assistant (2012)
+ Has coached five of the top 10 players in Tulsa history in career receiving yardage.
+ Was promoted to co-pass game coordinator last year.
+ Oversaw a receiver group last season that included Josh Johnson, who broke out for 83 catches, 1,114 yards and six touchdowns.
+ Former Penn State defensive back who was a 2006 fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans. Had 14 career NFL starts. Recorded 57 tackles and two interceptions for the Titans in 2007.

South Carolina defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Sterling Lucas

Recent jobs: South Carolina (2022), Jacksonville Jaguars assistant defensive line coach (2021), Baltimore Ravens defensive assistant (2016-20), NC State graduate assistant (2013-15)
+ Spent the past six seasons in the NFL.
+ Has coached standout NFL players such as Josh Allen with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Matthew Judon, C.J. Mosley and Calais Campbell with the Baltimore Ravens.
+ Was part of defensive units in Baltimore that ranked among the top seven in the NFL four of his five seasons with the team, including first in 2018.
+ Former NC State linebacker who had 167 career tackles.
+ Began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at NC State, where he worked with current South Carolina DC Clayton White and with players like Denver Broncos Pro Bowl outside linebacker Bradley Chubb.

Boston College defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu

Recent jobs: Boston College (2020-present), Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach (2019), Mississippi State linebackers coach (2018), San Francisco 49ers quality control coach (2017), FIU defensive line coach (2015), Colgate linebackers coach (2014), Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive assistant (2012-13)
+ A driving force behind Boston College improving from 125th nationally under the previous staff in 2019 (478.7 yards per game) to 73rd nationally in 2020 (416.8 yards per game) to 27th last year (343.8 yards per game).
+ Lukabu’s 2021 BC defense ranked third nationally in pass defense and allowed the second-fewest plays of at least 30 yards among ACC teams (19).
+ Previously worked with BC coach Jeff Hafley with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13) and San Francisco 49ers (2016-17).
+ Has coached every position group on defense, including assisting Hafley with the 49ers’ secondary in 2017.
+ Has received interest regarding defensive coordinator jobs at multiple top-25 programs the past two coaching cycles.
+ Was the first two-time winner of the Patriot League’s Defensive Player of the Year award as a linebacker at Colgate.

Maryland co-OC/tight ends coach Mike Miller

Recent jobs: Maryland (2019-present), Alabama graduate assistant (2017-18)
+ Coached Tennessee Titans fourth-round pick Chigoziem Okonkwo, who ranked second among Big Ten tight ends with 52 catches last season and became the first Maryland tight end to be drafted since Dan Gronkowski in 2009.
+ Interviewed for an ACC offensive coordinator job this past coaching cycle.
+ Promoted to co-coordinator this offseason. Was pass-game coordinator last season, helping the Terps rank 13th nationally in passing offense (304.6 yards per game).
+ Was hired by Mike Locksley at Maryland after two years under Locksley as a graduate assistant at Alabama.
+ Worked with Clemson quarterback and ACC Player of the Year Deshaun Watson as a student coach in 2015 before a year as a high school offensive coordinator at Charlotte Christian, where he coached Syracuse starting QB Garrett Shrader.
+ Was a college quarterback at UAB, earning a scholarship after initially joining the team as a walk-on. Two of his coaches at UAB were current Purdue coach Jeff Brohm and then-Blazers coach Garrick McGee, who has been an offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Louisville and Illinois.

Fresno State offensive coordinator Kirby Moore

Recent jobs: Fresno State (2022), Fresno State wide receivers coach (2017-21), Washington graduate assistant (2015-16)
+ Is again working for Jeff Tedford, who hired him as Fresno State’s wide receivers coach in 2017, then elevated him to offensive coordinator upon returning as the Bulldogs’ coach this offseason.
+ Was Fresno’s pass game coordinator the past two seasons under Kalen DeBoer in addition to being the Bulldogs’ wide receivers coach.
+ Helped Fresno rank in the top 10 nationally in passing offense each of the past two seasons (ninth last season, fifth in 2020).
+ Was the play-caller for Fresno’s 31-24 win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl last season.
+ Has developed Bulldogs wide receiver Jalen Cropper, who had 11 touchdown catches last season and now has fifth-round NFL preseason draft grades. Is working with Fresno’s quarterback group that includes 2021 Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist Jake Haener.
+ The younger brother of Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
+ Set a national record with 95 career high school touchdown catches at Prosser (Wash.) High, in the south-central part of the state. He had 115 career catches as a wide receiver at Boise State.

Michigan co-OC/offensive line coach Sherrone Moore

Recent jobs: Michigan (2018-present), Central Michigan tight ends coach (2014-17), Louisville tight ends coach (2012-13)
+ Is entering his second season as Michigan’s co-OC and line coach after three seasons as the Wolverines’ tight ends coach.
+ His offensive line group last season won the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation’s top offensive line, and paved the way for Michigan to lead the Big Ten in rushing offense (214.4 yards per game) and rank second in the conference in scoring offense (35.8 points per game).
+ Moore’s 2021 line also allowed the fewest tackles for loss nationally (2.43 per game) and the second-fewest sacks among Power 5 teams (one per game).
+ Four of his offensive linemen were All-Big Ten selections last season.
+ Was recruiting coordinator during his final season at Central Michigan in 2017.
+ Is a former Oklahoma offensive lineman.

Louisiana defensive coordinator Lamar Morgan

Recent jobs: Louisiana (2022), Vanderbilt cornerbacks coach (2021), Louisiana cornerbacks coach (2019-20), Houston safeties coach (2018), ULM safeties coach (2016-17)
+ Was a starting safety for Louisiana as a player, a cornerbacks coach for the Ragin’ Cajuns under Billy Napier and now is back at Louisiana as the DC under new coach Michael Desormeaux.
+ Aided by Morgan, Vanderbilt and Louisiana have posted noteworthy interception totals the past two season. Vandy had 13 interceptions last season, which tied for fourth-best in the SEC and exceeded the Commodores’ interception total from the previous two seasons combined (eight). Louisiana tied for third nationally with 16 interceptions in 11 games in 2020.
+ Coached All-Sun Belt selections in each of his two seasons as Louisiana’s cornerbacks coach – Michael Jacquet in 2019 and Eric Garror in 2020.
+ Got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant under James Franklin at Vanderbilt in 2012, working on a staff that included Brent Pry (now Virginia Tech’s coach), Ricky Rahne (Old Dominion coach), Josh Gattis (Miami OC) and Sean Spencer (Florida co-DC/defensive line coach).

Rising-star assistants N-S

Tulane tight ends coach Slade Nagle

Recent jobs: Tulane (2016-present), McNeese State running backs coach/special teams coordinator (2012-15), Central Arkansas running backs coach (2011), Texas State co-OC/QB coach (2010), LSU special teams assistant (2009), Northwestern State (La.) QB/wide receivers coach (2006-08)
+ Under Nagle, Tulane tight end Tyrick James led the Green Wave with 429 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns last season. Another of Nagle’s tight ends, Will Wallace, tied for second on the team with three TD catches.
+ Has coached every position group on offense aside from the line and also worked with special teams at McNeese State and LSU.
+ Was promoted to assistant head coach in March.
+ A former college quarterback who played at Clemson and McNeese State. Won 19 games as a starting QB at McNeese and was an all-conference selection.

Cincinnati running backs coach Darren Paige

Recent jobs: Cincinnati (2021-present), Eastern Michigan wide receivers coach (2019-20), Stony Brook receivers coach (2018), Holy Cross receivers coach (2017), Midwestern State receivers coach (2013-16)
+ Was the position coach last season for Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford, who became a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns after jumping from 483 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 2020 to 1,319 yards and 19 TDs in his one season under Paige.
+ Helped the 2019 Eastern Michigan offense break single-season school records for touchdowns (49) and pass completions (313). In Paige’s two seasons at EMU, the Eagles ranked first in the MAC in passing offense in 2019, then fourth in 2020.
+ Produced All-MAC wide receivers in each of his two seasons at EMU.
+ Did a Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship with the Tennessee Titans in 2017.
+ Received interest for a Big Ten assistant job this coaching cycle.

Penn State co-DC/safeties coach Anthony Poindexter

Recent jobs: Penn State (2021-present), Purdue co-DC/safeties coach (2017-20), UConn DC (2014-16), Virginia assistant (2004-13)
+ Helped Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker earn first-team All-Big Ten recognition last season and become a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears.
+ Has coached other future NFL defensive backs, including Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney McLeod, who is entering his 11th NFL season, and former UConn safety Obi Melifonwu, who developed into a 2017 second-round pick under Poindexter after receiving just one scholarship offer as a recruit (UConn).
+ Contributed to Penn State ranking third in the Big Ten last season in defensive yards per play and pass defense. Aided by Poindexter, the Nittany Lions tied for first in the conference in limiting plays of at least 30 yards (17).
+ Was a candidate for the Virginia coaching job before Tony Elliott was hired.
+ A former All-American and ACC Player Defensive Player of the Year as a safety at Virginia. Was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2020.

Houston cornerbacks coach David Rowe

Recent jobs: Houston (2021-present), Central Michigan defensive backs coach (2019-20), Valdosta State defensive backs coach (2017-18)
+ Helped Houston rank 19th nationally in pass defense and eighth in opposing completion percentage last season.
+ Coached 2022 New England Patriots third-round pick Marcus Jones last season at Houston after producing two All-MAC defensive backs at Central Michigan in 2020.
+ His secondary group at Valdosta State ranked eighth in Division II in interceptions and contributed to the Blazers winning the Division II national championship in 2018.
+ The younger brother of Chicago Bears defensive backs coach James Rowe.
+ Was a three-year starter as a defensive back at Rutgers.

Charleston Southern offensive line coach Manrey Saint-Amour

Recent jobs: Charleston Southern (2022), Alabama graduate assistant (2021), Florida State graduate assistant (2020), Savannah State offensive line coach (2019)
+ Assisted Doug Marrone with an Alabama offensive line group last season that included All-American left tackle Evan Neal, who was selected by the New York Giants with the seventh pick in this year’s NFL draft.
+ Worked under Alex Atkins as an offensive line GA at Florida State after a year as the offensive line coach at FCS Savannah State. Also was Savannah State’s team chaplain and the leader of the team’s community outreach program.
+ Has been a quick riser after beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Concordia, an NAIA school in Michigan, in 2017.
+ Was a two-time all-conference selection as an offensive lineman at Georgia Southern.

2022-rising-star-assistants-you-need-to-know-matt-zenitz-coach-series
Mike Shanahan was a star receiver at Pitt and will help usher James Madison into the FBS ranks this season as its offensive coordinator. (Courtesy of James Madison Athletics)

James Madison offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan

Recent jobs: James Madison (2019-present), Elon wide receivers coach (2017-18), Indiana (Pa.) wide receivers coach (2016), Pitt graduate assistant (2014-15)
+ Was promoted to offensive coordinator last year after two seasons as James Madison’s wide receivers coach and helped the Dukes rank fifth in the FCS in scoring offense in his first season as OC.
+ Produced two All-American wide receivers last season – recent South Carolina addition Antwane Wells, who ranked second in the FCS with 15 touchdown catches, and Kris Thornton, who tied for fourth in the FCS with 13 TD catches.
+ Also is James Madison’s recruiting coordinator.
+ Has worked under James Madison coach Curt Cignetti since 2016 at Division II Indiana (Pa.).
+ Former Pitt wide receiver and two-time team captain who ranks eighth in school history with 159 career catches.

Minnesota co-OC/wide receivers coach Matt Simon

Recent jobs: Minnesota (2017-present), Western Michigan receivers coach (2014-16), Rutgers receivers coach (2013), Rutgers player development (2012), St. Thomas (Minn.) tight ends coach (2011)
+ Has had two NFL draft picks in the past three years — 2021 Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman and 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers fifth-round selection Tyler Johnson. He may soon have another in Chris Autman-Bell, who has a sixth-round preseason draft grade from one of the scouting services used by NFL teams. Comes after he developed two NFL draft picks at Western Michigan, including 2017 Tennessee Titans first-rounder and No. 5 overall selection Corey Davis.
+ Was promoted to the Golden Gophers’ co-OC in 2020 after serving as pass game coordinator in 2019.
+ Was the offensive play-caller for Minnesota’s 31-24 Outback Bowl win over Auburn in 2020, leading the way as the Golden Gophers racked up 494 yards.
+ Has received Group of 5 offensive coordinator as well as NFL assistant coach interest in recent years.
+ Played under P.J. Fleck as a wide receiver at Northern Illinois and has worked for him at both Western Michigan and Minnesota.

Louisville running backs coach De’Rail Sims

Recent jobs: Louisville (2021-present), East Carolina running backs coach (2019-20), James Madison running backs coach (2016-18), Western Carolina running backs coach (2013-15), Carson-Newman running backs coach (2012)
+ Aided by Sims, Louisville ranked fifth nationally in yards per carry (5.45) and 18th in rushing yardage (212.9 yards per game) last season. The Cardinals were No. 1 in ACC conference play in both yards per carry (5.86) and rushing yards (236 per game).
+ Helped Rahjai Harris garner first-team All-AAC recognition and win AAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman at ECU in 2020.
+ Contributed to James Madison ranking second in the FCS in scoring and fifth in rushing offense on its way to winning the 2016 FCS national title. Coached James Madison All-America running back Khalid Abdullah, who broke school single-season records with 1,809 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
+ Was part of Carson-Newman rushing for 380 yards per game in 2012, which led Division II.

LSU quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan

Recent jobs: LSU (2022), Louisiana Tech (2013-21), USF graduate assistant/quality control coach (2010-12)
+ Was Louisiana Tech’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two years and served as the Bulldogs’ interim head coach at the end of last season. Worked with the Bulldogs’ inside receiver group before 2020.
+ Has been a candidate for multiple Group of 5 head-coaching jobs the past two coaching cycles.
+ Contributed to Louisiana Tech improving to fourth in Conference USA in passing offense each of the past three seasons after ranking seventh in 2017 and fifth in 2018.
+ Developed players at Louisiana Tech like quarterback Luke Anthony, the 2020 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year as a senior after transferring from Abilene Christian, and wide receiver Trent Taylor, a 2017 fifth-round draft of the San Francisco 49ers who ranked first nationally with 1,803 receiving yards in 2016.
+ Also was Louisiana Tech’s recruiting coordinator.

Missouri co-DC/linebackers coach D.J. Smith

Recent jobs: Missouri (2019-present), Appalachian State outside linebackers coach (2018-19), Appalachian State analyst (2017)
+ Was promoted to co-DC and recruiting coordinator earlier this year.
+ Helped Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton go from an unheralded recruit (ranked outside the top 1,000 players in the 2018 recruiting class) to a two-time first-team All-SEC selection and a 2021 second-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.
+ Was the lead recruiter on three four-star 2022 defensive players who signed with Mizzou.
+ Under Smith at App State, Akeem Davis-Gaither became a two-time All-Sun Belt selection, the 2019 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and a 2020 fourth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.
+ Smith is a former App State and NFL linebacker who started nine games for the Green Bay Packers in 2011 and 2012. Was a two-time FCS All-American and had 525 career tackles.

Florida co-offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton

Recent jobs: Florida (2022), Louisiana assistant offensive line coach (2021), Sam Houston State offensive line coach (2017-20), Bucknell offensive line coach (2014-16)
+ Teams with Florida OC Rob Sale to coach the Gators’ offensive line.
+ Previously worked under new Florida coach Billy Napier at Louisiana. Coached three All-Sun Belt offensive linemen, including New York Jets fourth-round offensive lineman Max Mitchell and recent Gators transfer addition O’Cyrus Torrence.
+ Produced two all-conference offensive linemen in 2019 at Sam Houston State and developed players at Bucknell like Julien Davenport, a 2017 fourth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans who became Bucknell’s first NFL draftee since 1969.
+ Is a former Rutgers and NFL offensive lineman. Was a starting guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2008 Super Bowl team.

South Carolina wide receivers coach Justin Stepp

Recent jobs: South Carolina (2021-present), Arkansas receivers coach (2018-20), SMU receivers coach (2015-17), Appalachian State receivers coach (2012-14)
+ A Columbia, S.C., native who joined the South Carolina staff after three seasons at Arkansas.
+ Contributed to a breakout 2021 season for South Carolina wide receiver Josh Vann, who had 679 receiving yards and emerged as a 2023 NFL draft prospect after finishing each of his first three college seasons with 171 or fewer yards.
+ Has coached two recent early-round NFL wide receivers – 2022 Tennessee Titans first-round pick Treylon Burks at Arkansas and 2018 Denver Broncos second-round selection and 2019 Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton at SMU.
+ Was pursued by an ACC team this past coaching cycle.

Oregon State running backs coach AJ Steward

Recent jobs: Oregon State (2021-present), Arizona running backs coach (2020), BYU running backs coach (2018-19), Rice running backs coach (2014-17)
+ His first Oregon State running back group included B.J. Baylor, who ran for 1,337 yards and became the first Beavers running back to lead the Pac-12 in rushing since Steven Jackson in 2003; Baylor had rushed for 177 or fewer yards in each of his first three college seasons.
+ Helped the Beavers set school records for yards per carry (5.3) and yards per play (6.4) last season.
+ Contributed to the development of New York Giants 2021 sixth-round draft pick Gary Brightwell at Arizona.
+ Had five different 100-yard rushers in his two seasons at BYU.
+ Produced two 2,000-yard career rushers at Rice.

SMU defensive coordinator Scott Symons

Recent jobs: SMU (2022), Liberty DC (2019-21), Memphis inside linebackers coach (2018), West Georgia DC (2014-17), Arkansas Tech DC (2013)
+ Led the way for Liberty defenses that ranked 10th nationally in 2020 and 11th last season.
+ Contributed to three NCAA Division II playoff appearances at West Georgia.
+ Was a candidate for a Big 12 DC job this past cycle.
+ Also garnered interest for at least two Big Ten DC jobs.

Rising-star assistants T-Z

Air Force OC/quarterbacks coach Mike Thiessen

Recent jobs: Air Force OC/QB coach (2015-present), Air Force co-OC/wide receivers coach (2011-14), Air Force receivers coach (2007-08)
+ Has helped Air Force average at least 30 points per game in six of his seven seasons as coordinator.
+ Air Force has ranked No. 1 nationally in rushing each of the past two seasons after previously accomplishing that only once in school history.
+ Received interest for the Georgia Southern coach opening that went to Clay Helton.
+ A two-sport star (baseball and football) at Air Force. Was an All-American as a centerfielder in 2000 in baseball, then was Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year later that fall as the football team’s quarterback.
+ Was inducted into the Air Force Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

Marshall OC/quarterbacks coach Clint Trickett

Recent jobs: Marshall OC/QB coach (2022), Marshall wide receivers coach/pass game coordinator (2021), FAU QB coach (2020), FAU tight ends coach (2017-19), East Mississippi CC QB coach (2015-16)
+ Readying for first opportunity as a play-caller after being promoted to OC by Charles Huff earlier this year.
+ Helped Marshall rank 18th nationally and second in Conference USA in passing offense last season.
+ At FAU, Trickett coached All-American tight end Harrison Bryant, who became the first non-Power 5 winner of the John Mackey Award and a 2020 fourth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.
+ Was set to be a graduate assistant at Alabama until being hired by Lane Kiffin as FAU’s tight ends coach.
+ Former Florida State and West Virginia quarterback who ranked 10th nationally in passing as a senior at West Virginia in 2014 (298.6 yards per game).
+ Has learned under some of the nation’s most respected offensive coaches as a player and coach, including Kiffin, Jimbo Fisher, Dana Holgorsen and Kendal Briles.

Utah State OC/quarterbacks coach Anthony Tucker

Recent jobs: Utah State (2021-present), UCF running backs coach (2018-20), Maryland running backs coach (2016-17)
+ Led the way as Utah State went from 123rd nationally in total offense to 19th last season.
+ Tucker’s 2021 offense broke six school records, including touchdown passes (41) and passing yards (4,248).
+ Was promoted each of his final two years at UCF, to pass game coordinator in 2019, then to co-OC in 2020. The Knights ranked second nationally in total offense both seasons.
+ Contributed to UCF breaking several school rushing records in 2018, including rushing yards per game (265.2) and rushing touchdowns (43).
+ Previously helped Maryland pile up 2,594 rushing yards in 2016, its first time reaching 2,500 yards in a season since 2003.

Georgia outside linebackers coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe

Recent jobs: Georgia (2022), SMU defensive line coach (2021), Kansas outside linebackers coach (2020), Kansas analyst (2019), Colorado graduate assistant (2016-18)
+ Was set to be Sonny Dykes’ defensive line coach at TCU until being hired at Georgia.
+ Was SMU’s defensive line coach under Dykes and helped Mustangs defensive end Elijah Chatman earn second-team All-AAC recognition.
+ Previously aided in the development of Kansas players such as outside linebacker Kyron Johnson, who was an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection under Uzo-Diribe in 2020 and a 2022 sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.
+ Lead recruiter on four-star edge rusher Gabriel Harris, who committed to Georgia in April.
+ Did a Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018.
+ Garnered interest for multiple NFL assistant jobs this past cycle.
+ Former standout defensive lineman at Colorado. Is tied for sixth in Buffaloes history with 20 career sacks. Tied for third with five forced fumbles as a senior in 2013.

Louisiana Tech defensive line coach Casey Walker

Recent jobs: Louisiana Tech (2022), Texas A&M-Commerce (2019-21), Oklahoma Baptist defensive line coach (2018)
+ Was set to be the defensive line coach for G.J. Kinne at FCS Incarnate Word until being hired by Louisiana Tech.
+ Contributed to Texas A&M-Commerce setting an NCAA record with 10 first-half sacks in a game last season. Also helped the team lead the Division II Lone Star Conference in sacks per game in 2019 and break a Division II playoff record with 10 sacks in a victory over Colorado School of Mines.
+ Walker is a former Oklahoma and NFL defensive lineman who replaced a former Sooners defensive line teammate, JaMarkus McFarland, as Louisiana Tech’s defensive line coach after McFarland left for a job at TCU.

Rutgers defensive line coach Marquise Watson

Recent jobs: Rutgers (2022), Ole Miss analyst (2021), Ole Miss graduate assistant (2020), Bryant defensive line coach (2019), Rutgers defensive assistant (2018), Amherst running backs coach (2017)
+ Is the nation’s youngest Power 5 defensive line coach at age 27.
+ Is back at Rutgers after a previous stint as a support staffer in 2018.
+ Was a finalist for the Ole Miss defensive line coach position early last year before the Rebels hired Randall Joyner (who’s also on this list).
+ Started off as a graduate assistant at Ole Miss in 2020, then served as the team’s interim defensive line coach for its Outback Bowl matchup against Indiana and was promoted to a senior defensive analyst position for the Rebels.
+ Left an FCS job as the defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator at Bryant to take that graduate assistant position at Ole Miss.

2022-rising-star-assistants-you-need-to-know-matt-zenitz-coach-series
Holmon Wiggins arrived at Alabama in 2019 after seven seasons working for Justin Fuente at Memphis and Virginia Tech. (Kent Gidley/Alabama Athletics)

Alabama wide receivers coach Holmon Wiggins

Recent jobs: Alabama (2019-present), Virginia Tech receivers coach (2016-18), Memphis receivers coach (2012-15)
+ In three seasons as Alabama’s wide receivers coach, Wiggins has coached five NFL first-round picks, a second-round pick and helped DeVonta Smith become just the sixth receiver to win the Heisman.
+ Was promoted to assistant head coach of offense for the Crimson Tide last year.
+ Spent seven seasons working under Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech and Memphis before being hired at Alabama.
+ Coached the two leading receivers in Virginia Tech history. Cam Phillips was a first-team All-ACC selection under Wiggins and set Virginia Tech career records for receptions and receiving yards. Isaiah Ford broke the Hokies single-season record with 79 catches under Wiggins in 2016.
+ Has received interest for at least two FBS coaching jobs in recent years, including Georgia Southern this coaching cycle. Also garnered interest for a Power 5 offensive coordinator job this cycle.

South Alabama defensive line coach Landius Wilkerson

Recent jobs: South Alabama (2021-present), Chattanooga defensive line coach (2020), Jacksonville State defensive ends coach (2018-19), Huntingdon (Ala.) assistant (2010-17)
+ A Sun Belt coach told On3 that Wilkerson’s defensive line group was the best-coached unit his team faced last season.
+ Helped South Alabama cut down its yards-allowed average from 436.4 yards per game to 354.7 last season. Also contributed to the Jaguars ranking fourth in the Sun Belt with 2.67 sacks per game after ranking ninth with just 1.18 per game in 2020.
+ Has been a quick riser after spending eight seasons as an assistant at Division III Huntingdon, in Montgomery, Ala. Made the move to the FCS level in 2018 at Jacksonville State. Then jumped to the FBS level at South Alabama last year.
+ Was recruiting coordinator at Chattanooga in addition to being the team’s defensive line coach in 2020.
+ Was a team captain and three-year starting offensive lineman at FCS Alabama State.

UCF defensive backs coach Addison Williams

Recent jobs: UCF (2021-present), Coastal Carolina safeties coach (2020), Auburn analyst (2019), Furman cornerbacks coach (2017-18), Tusculum DC (2016)
+ Helped UCF improve from allowing the third-most touchdown passes nationally in 2020 (26 in 10 games) to allowing the seventh-fewest last season (12 in 13 games).
+ Aided by Williams, the Knights ranked fourth nationally in defensive yards per pass attempt, seventh in pass efficiency defense and 36th nationally in pass defense (210.1 yards per game) after ranking 121st nationally in pass defense in 2020 (299.2 yards per game).
+ Contributed to Coastal Carolina tying for third nationally in interceptions (16) and ranking 16th in pass efficiency defense in 2020.
+ Previously worked under Gus Malzahn as an analyst and assistant to the head coach at Auburn in 2019. Had been set to be the defensive coordinator at FCS Furman before taking that job at Auburn.
+ Was the DC at Division II Tusculum (Tenn.) in 2016.
+ Was a cornerback at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier and began his coaching career as a student assistant with the Gamecocks in 2010.

UCF defensive coordinator Travis Williams

Recent jobs: UCF (2021-present), Auburn co-DC/linebackers coach (2019-20), Auburn linebackers coach (2016-18), Auburn analyst (2014-15)
+ Led a massive defensive turnaround in his first season as a coordinator as UCF went from 123rd nationally in total defense in 2020 (491.8 yards per game) to 53rd last season (369.3 yards per game).
+ During a 6-1 stretch to close the season, Williams’ defense limited opponents to an average of 11.8 points in the six wins and posted an average of five sacks in those six games.
+ Continues to be regarded as a top-tier recruiter. At Auburn, Williams recruited, coached and developed players such as former five-star linebacker Owen Pappoe, All-SEC linebacker Zakoby McClain and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fifth-round pick K.J. Britt, a 2019 first-team All-SEC selection.
+ Was promoted to co-DC at Auburn in 2019 and to recruiting coordinator in 2020.
+ Was an All-SEC linebacker for Auburn in 2004 and ’05, and was the defensive recipient of the team’s Pat Dye Leadership Award both years.

Honorable mention offensive coaches: Murray State wide receivers coach Jarrett Boykin, Rice offensive line coach Sanders Davis, East Carolina running backs coach Chris Foster, Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon, Oregon State wide receivers coach Kefense Hynson, Houston offensive line coach Brandon Jones, Virginia quarterbacks coach Taylor Lamb, Brown offensive line coach Michael McCarthy, Rhode Island OC Patrick Murphy, Tennessee wide receivers coach Kelsey Pope, Texas A&M-Commerce OC Billy Riebock, North Dakota State OC Tyler Roehl, Tulane running backs coach Derrick Sherman, UAB wide receivers coach Larry Smith, Middle Tennessee quarterbacks coach Brent Stockstill.

Honorable mention defensive coaches: Southern Miss DC Austin Armstrong, Western Kentucky defensive line coach Kenny Baker, Vanderbilt defensive line coach Larry Black, Liberty outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Tanner Burns, Louisiana Tech outside linebackers coach Anthony Camp, East Carolina cornerbacks coach Steve Ellis, Liberty defensive backs coach Darius Eubanks, Middle Tennessee cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator Kenneth Gilstrap, Eastern Kentucky defensive line coach Jeremy Hawkins, Western Kentucky outside linebackers coach Michael Hutchings, South Dakota DC Travis Johansen, Southeastern Louisiana cornerbacks coach Del Lee-Collins, UCF defensive tackles coach Kenny Martin, Navy DC Brian Newberry, Colorado State cornerbacks coach Marcus Patton, Tulane defensive line coach Travian Robertson, Central Arkansas defensive backs coach Keith Scott, Florida A&M co-DC/safeties coach Brandon Sharp, Florida A&M co-DC/linebackers coach Ryan Smith, Albany cornerbacks coach Darrin Walls, Colorado State defensive line coach Buddha Williams.