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Coach Hazell has a pretty good staff assembled so far, but there are still some huge openings.
New football coach Darrell Hazell is slowly starting to fill his staff out now that the college football season has been over for a few weeks. We already know a few of the assistants he has picked up with his $2.1 million shopping spree, but there are still a few key positions to be filled. Here are the ones we know:
Jim Bollman - Offensive Line - This one came through my inbox the other day from SB Nation's BC Interruption:
Bollman, who came to Boston College after an unsuccessful stint as offensive coordinator at Ohio State, leaves after one year of service to the Eagles. The offensive line struggled mightily for BC in 2012 and many debate how much of the fault lies with Bollman. While he did not recruit the current players, it's hard to defend him when there were countless plays where linemen were either out of place or completely blew their assignments. The result of this mess? Chase Rettig was sacked 34 times, placing BC 104th in the country in sacks allowed.
Yikes. When I tweeted this article last night even Ohio State diehards were not convinced:
That's hardly a ringing endorsement. He is supposedly a good recruiter, but our offensive line had worse protection than a broken condom last season. It is an area that needs an overhaul and this appears to not be the answer. He did work with Hazell at OSU though.
Marcus Freeman - Linebackers - Freeman is an extremely young coach on the staff at only age 27. He was drafted out of Ohio State by the Bears but did not make it in the NFL. He was a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes for a year before serving as coach Hazell's linebackers coach the last two years. As a player he was twice Second-Team all-Big Ten. He retired due to an enlarged heart in May 2010.
This is yet another coach with a strong Ohio State influence, which does not bother me in the least. The Buckeyes have been the premier program in the Big Ten over the last decade, so they are clearly doing SOMETHING right.
Here is his bio from Kent State:
Junior linebacker Luke Batton also had a breakout season for Kent State under Freeman's guidance. Batton led the team with 102 tackles in 2011 and earned Second Team All-MAC recognition. Freeman's linebacking corps was a staple of consistency for the MAC's top-ranked defense in conference-only games. The Golden Flashes also led the MAC in total red zone defense and pass efficiency defense in conference-only games.
Batton went on to have a great season this past year with 143 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and four fumble recoveries. He has decent draft prospects for this spring even as an undersized guy at 5'11" 230 pounds.
Freeman was part of the staff that had a breakout year at Kent State, so this seems like a pretty good hire. He has three returning starters in Sean Robinson, Will Lucas, and Joe Gilliam to work with too.
Jafar Williams - Running backs - Kent State's offense relied heavily on the running game last season with a pair of 1,000 yard rushers. Williams was their coach, so we should be excited that he is coming in with some talent to work with. Akeem Shavers and Brandon Cottom were not used enough last season and Raheem Mostert with Danny Anthrop could also see carries. Freshmen Keyante Green and David Yancey are also very talented.
There is talent at the position. Can Williams use it? Williams was a wide receiver at Maryland from 2000-03, giving Purdue yet another young, up and coming coach. He has some Big Ten experience as Special Teams Quality Control in 2010 at Northwestern, The last year he has been Hazell's running backs coach at Kent State:
During the 2011 season, Williams mentored a pair of true freshmen tailbacks that made an immediate impact for the Golden Flashes. In their first year of collegiate action, Trayion Durham and Anthony Meray combined for 910 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
Let's not forget what Durham and Dri Arhcer did this past season. He can also add plenty of tips on catching the ball out of the backfield with 90 catches for 1,301 yards at Maryland.
Jon Heacock - Defense - Heacock was Hazell's defensive coordinator at Kent State after being head coach at Youngstown State after some guy named Jim Tressell left. He's been an assistant at Toledo, Michigan, and was Indiana's defensive coordinator from 1997-99.
That last part raises an alarm, as he was the coach that gave up 56, 52, and 30 points to Purdue in consecutive seasons. Fortunately, though his final role is not defined yet, it is not as defensive coordinator. That job is Hudson's.
In the past he has worked with the defensive line and secondary, so He could fill-in at either of those two positions. He worked with the secondary and special teams at Michigan from 1988-89 as a graduate assistant. He was also with the defensive backs at Youngstown State before taking over for Tressell. In 2006 the Penguins reached the semifinals of the FCS playoffs under him.
I am betting that he moves to the secondary, where Danny Hope assembled a nice roster of speed and talent for him led by Ricardo Allen.
He arrived at OSU as an assistant strength coach in January of 2007, before moving to strength and conditioning coordinator in May of 2008. Davis designed and implemented the year-round strength, speed, and conditioning program for the Buckeyes. He specifically trained the Ohio State wide receivers and defensive backs on a daily basis and also prepared a number of Buckeyes entering the NFL Draft. Specifically, he coordinated the training of seven Buckeyes selected in the 2009 draft, including first round picks Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Wells.
From his bio it looks like he specializes in working with speed, which Danny Hope was kind enough to leave behind.
Tommy Cook - Director of Football Operations - A former wide receiver at Kentucky, Cook takes over a role that is primarily involved in recruiting and working with players off the field. He, too, is coming over from Kent State, where he worked for one year after spending a few seasons at his alma mater. I am a fan of having another younger guy in this role that is so closely affiliated with recruiting because he can connect better with incoming players.
Kevin Sherman - Wide Receivers - Sherman comes to Purdue from perennial ACC power Virginia Tech, where he was also the receivers coach. He has been the coach at VaTech since 2006 and was part of a team that went to four BCS bowls in six years.
Sherman coached the top two receivers in Virginia Tech history in Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. This past season Marcus Davis caught 51 passes for 953 yards and five TDs while Corey Fuller caught 43 passes for 815 yards and six scores. Like other coaches, he has some talent returning in O.J. Ross and Gary bush, plus several other younger players. Dolapo Macarthy will be a fun prospect to work with too.
Who is NOT coming back for sure:
J.B. Gibboney - Special Teams - Western Michigan will now lead Division I in piss-poor punt protection and special teams breakdowns.
Tim Tibesar - Defensive coordinator - No word on if he is going back to Canada, eh?
Patrick Higgins and Cornell Jackson - wide receivers and running backs - Both of these guys are off to UTEP.
Shawn Clark - Offensive Line - Clark is going the other way and heading to Kent State.
Danny Hope - Head Coach - Hope did interview at Florida International, but did not get the job.
Offensive Coordinator - By far this is the most important position coach Hazell has not filled, and with no news about Gary Nord I fear the Nordfense could make a horrifying return. I don't care if we hire a 12-year-old Madden junky. He would have to be better than the Nordfense.
Quarterbacks - Get someone good, for crying out loud! We're the damn Cradle of Quarterbacks with TWO freshmen to mold into greatness!
Defensive line - Does anyone have Rosevelt Colvin's number handy?
Special teams - Like Gary Nord, I don't care if we have a mentally challenged chimp in this spot, as long as he can identify a punt protection that works and get kickoff coverage to tackle I am good.