College football's rising stars: The 30Under30 for 2019
These are college football's rising coaching stars.
How young is 30 in college football? Not young at all.
Lincoln Riley is one of college football’s premier coaches. At 35, he’s just half a decade removed from that cutoff. He’s not alone. Riley is one of five FBS head coaches who’s 35 years or younger, joined by Sean Lewis (Kent State), Will Healy (Charlotte), Jake Spavital (Texas State) and Walt Bell (UMass). 247Sports is entering Year 3 of its 30-under-30 series, which highlights some of the top young coaches in college football, so none of those coaches were included on our initial list. But the point is, coaches 30 and under aren’t far away from roles of major responsibility at the FBS level. In fact, some of our initial 2017 members are already there: Cort Dennison (Louisville co-DC), Kenny Dillingham (Auburn OC), Glenn Schumann (Georgia co-DC).
College football did see two legendary greybeards rejoin the fray this offseason in Mack Brown and Les Miles, but of the 14 first-time FBS head coaches hired this offseason, their average age was just 40.4. Only one new hire, Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, was over the age of 50.
That’s a testament to how quickly a coach can move up the rankings. 247Sports’ goal with the 30Under30 series is to find the next group of college football stars. Using our network of contacts and team-site experts, we asked: “Who’s going to be a star.”
That wide net returned a number of names. We also considered some off-field personnel. Recruiting coordinators and strength coaches are critical building blocks for success in college football, and several of them found their way to this list, which was finalized in a months-long process by myself, Barton Simmons and Steve Wiltfong.
These are college football’s rising stars entering the 2019 season, with names listed in alphabetical order.
Joe Brady, LSU, Passing Game Coordinator (29): Brady comes to LSU from the New Orleans Saints, where he served as an offensive assistant the last two seasons. The William & Mary alumnus is tasked with helping to install the spread in offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger’s offense. Said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron earlier this year: “Joe put in a lot of plays.” Brady previously worked under Joe Moorhead at Penn State.
Terrence Brown, Vanderbilt, Cornerbacks Coach (28): Brown’s football education is a strong one. He played for David Shaw at Stanford, winning a Pac-12 title in 2012. He had a quick run in the NFL before joining Chris Petersen’s Washington staff as a GA in 2016, where he helped coach one of the nation’s best secondary groups. Derrick Mason, Brown’s DC at Stanford, hired Brown as a full-time assistant prior to the 2018 season. Brown helped develop Joejuan Williams in his first year; Williams earned all-SEC honors and the Patriots selected him in the second round.
Bryan Carrington, Texas, Director of Recruiting (29): A former Houston recruiting assistant who’s quickly risen up the ranks under Tom Herman, Carrington’s come to be one of Texas’ most critical recruiting pieces. Herman put him on the road as a temporary 10th assistant during the 2018 cycle and it paid off in a huge way. Recruits and parents love him. His “shhhh” emoji on Twitter has become the bat signal of Longhorn recruiting.
SPOTLIGHT: Carrington blessed with the gift of gab
For the first year and a half Bryan Carrington worked in Houston’s recruiting department as a volunteer student assistant, Tom Herman didn’t even know his name. That’s how it goes trying to crack the player personnel game in college football.
As the cream rises to the top, so did Carrington who is unique in his specific role to all his peers in the game. Now a household name among blue-chip prospects as the Texas Director of Recruiting, and one of the first people Herman took with him during the transition from Houston to Austin in November of 2016, Carrington is also a headliner on 247Sports’ third annual 30under30 list.
From Caden Sterns to Jake Smith to Joseph Ossai, the convivial Carrington has been in the middle of many of Texas’s big recruiting wins over the last two cycles in helping the Longhorns sign back to back No. 3 ranked classes. Nobody utilizes an off-field recruiting guy in college football like Texas does with Carrington. The focal point of his job is to get to know and help persuade top targets that Austin is the best fit for them, while others deal with organization, budgets etc. He doesn’t get credit as a lead or secondary recruiter as an off-field staffer, but look at the names above and it’s evident Carrington is college football’s top assist man.
When recruits would visit Houston’s campus the question “where’s Bryan at” came up a ton. Carrington was working social media, connecting with top targets for the Cougars who wanted to meet up when they arrived for their visit.
“When I started I told myself I have to be more than just a typical personnel guy,” Carrington said, heaping praise on Texas’ DPP Derek Chang for teaching him the ropes along the way. His mother always told him he had a “gift for gab” so he put it to use when he got his shot. Talk to anyone around the Longhorns program and they echo that sentiment, that Carrington is unique in making folks feel at home and comfortable.
Carrington said it took Herman some time to warm up to his outgoing style with prospects and their families, but with Chang’s encouragement they even sent him on the road to recruit.
“You think about all that went into securing that kid, the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations and it’s all worth it when you see him on our practice field making plays,” Carrington said. “I feel like I’m extremely motivated when it becomes a relationship battle of putting myself head to head against anyone in the country as far as building and developing a relationship and selling the University of Texas.” — Steve Wiltfong
Corey Dennis, Ohio State, Senior Quality Control (26): Dennis is entering his fifth season as an Ohio State off-field assistant. His focus working with Ryan Day has largely centered around quarterbacks. In his current role, Dennis also helps with game planning and practice organization. One former Ohio State passer told 247Sports Dennis was “critical” to his development. Dennis is Urban Meyer’s son-in-law.
Kenny Dillingham, Auburn, Offensive Coordinator (29): Dillingham’s gone from Memphis grad assistant to SEC offensive coordinator in just three seasons. He helped guide the nation’s No. 4 overall offense at Memphis in his first season as a full-time coordinator, which led to Gus Malzhn poaching him for the Auburn Tigers. He’s widely considered one of the top young offensive minds in college football.
SPOTLIGHT: From high school LB coach to offensive whiz kid
It’s 10:15 p.m. on a Sunday night and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham is still inside the Auburn football facility where he’s been the entire day preparing for Oregon. He’s a long way from home, Scottsdale, Ariz. where his coaching career actually began as a high school senior at state power Chaparral High.
Not a prospect as a high school linebacker, Dillingham lost his senior season because of injury. So he traded in his helmet for a whistle and helped coach the guys on the junior varsity. A whirlwind dozen years later he’s in the SEC.
“I’m a guy with zero connections to anybody in college football,” Dillingham told 247Sports between calls with head coach Gus Malzahn, who was working as well. “No uncles, no brothers, no cousins. I never played college football. I started off in junior high coaching seventh graders at the park.”
Linebackers in particular. That was Dillingham’s first gig while he was a freshman at Arizona State beginning work towards law school. Three years later he had already worked his way up to offensive coordinator at Chaparral and his ambition changed.
“I knew I wanted to be an offensive coordinator and a head coach, I just didn’t know what level,” Dillingham said.
In 2013, Arizona State OC Mike Norvell brought tabbed Dillingham as an offensive assistant focusing on tight ends, and then gave him his first on-field job coaching quarterbacks when he took the head job at Memphis in 2016. Quarterbacks Riley Ferguson and then last fall Brady White flourished under Dillingham’s watch and last fall as the Tigers offensive coordinator he contributed to an attack that finished fourth-nationally in total yards led by Doak Walker finalist in running back Darrell Henderson.
Malzahn gobbled Dillingham up and here he is, where he thought he would be, preparing for one of college football’s biggest opening week ballgames.
“I know that sounds crazy,” Dillingham said. “It doesn’t help that sounds arrogant but when I was 19 I believed I’d be the youngest offensive coordinator in the country and youngest head coach in the country.” — Steve Wiltfong
Jeffrey Faris, Duke, Tight Ends Coach/Offense Recruiting Coordinator(29): Faris transitioned from Duke player to off-field assistant in 2012, and he’s been a staple of the Blue Devils’ staff ever since. He coached wide receivers from 2015-17 and transitioned to tight ends coach with recruiting coordinator duties last year. Faris served as the lead recruiter for four-star corner Tony Davis last cycle, the Blue Devils’ highest-ranked signee.
Billy Fessler, Mississippi State, Grad Assistant (23): The youngest member of this 30-man list, Fessler is a former Penn State walk-on who became somewhat of a cult figure in Happy Valley. Fessler was a GA at Slippery Rock last season. This offseason he joined his former OC, Joe Moorhead, at Mississippi State as a GA. “I see him as a future coordinator,” said one Mississippi State source.
Matt Guerrieri, Duke, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defense Recruiting Coordinator (29): Guerrieri joined Duke’s staff as a graduate assistant in 2012 and earned a promotion to safeties coach in 2015. Guerrieri has helped develop a number of all-ACC safeties during his tenure: Jeremy Cash (a three-time All-American), DeVon Edwards, Jeremy McDuffie and Dylan Singleton. He also ranked as Duke’s top recruiter during the 2019 cycle.
Randall Joyner, SMU, Defensive Line Coach (27): A second-year assistant with the Mustangs, Joyner is considered a tremendous recruiter and is one of the youngest coaches on this list. Joyner, an SMU alumnus, did a two-year stint as a GA at Ohio State before returning to Dallas. There, he worked under Buckeye d-line coach Larry Johnson, considered one of the best in the business. Joyner took over full-time defensive line duties this offseason.
Collin Klein, Kansas State, Quarterbacks Coach (29): Most remember Klein as a 2012 Heisman finalist and arguably the best quarterback in Kansas State history. But he’s made a name for himself as a coach. Klein’s been a full-time assistant in Manhattan since 2017, and new head coach Chris Klieman opted to retain him this offseason following Bill Snyder’s retirement.
Matt Lindsey, South Carolina, Director of Player Personnel (28): Lindsey heads South Carolina’s recruiting arm, and the Gamecocks are recruiting at a high level under his and Will Muschamp’s direction. South Carolina landed the nation’s No. 17 overall class last season, including five-star DT Zacch Pickens. The Gamecocks are again on pace for a potential top 20 class in 2020. Lindsey came to South Carolina from the Philadelphia Eagles, where he served as a scouting assistant.
Damon Magazu, Oklahoma, Graduate Assistant (28): A two-time all-conference selection at East Carolina, Magazu started his coaching career as a GA at his alma mater in 2016. He moved on to Oklahoma two years later, joining his former Pirate coaches Lincoln Riley and Ruffin McNeill. “He’s going to be a great one, and I say it with no hesitation,” one Oklahoma source told 247Sports.
Sean Maguire, Texas A&M, Graduate Assistant (25): You probably remember Maguire as a former Florida State quarterback. Now, he’s one of the most promising grad assistants in the FBS. Again working with Jimbo Fisher, this time at Texas A&M, one Aggie assistant said of Maguire: “It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a play-caller in three or four years.” Maguire joined Fisher’s initial Aggie staff last season.
Marshall Malchow, Georgia, Director of Player Personnel (29): One of Kirby Smart’s first hires at Georgia in January of 2016, Malchow’s led one of the best recruiting departments in the country. Georgia’s reeled in back-to-back-to-back top 3 classes, and Malchow’s fingerprints are all over that success. The best have targeted him, too. Malchow’s worked in personnel departments under Nick Saban, Charlie Strong Chris Petersen and Smart.
Mike Miller, Maryland, Tight Ends Coach (28): Miller is a first-time FBS assistant at Maryland. But he’s had a strong upbringing. He started his career as a quarterback (and student assistant) at UAB before moving on to Clemson when the Blazers’ program folded. Miller became a student assistant under Dabo Swinney for a season. Two years later, he joined Alabama’s staff as GA. He impressed new Maryland head coach Mike Locksley enough that Miller is now on the field for the Terps.
Kirby Moore, Fresno State, Wide Receivers Coach (29): A former Boise State wide receiver (you probably recognize his brother, Kellen, who is now the Cowboys’ OC), Moore’s quickly made a name for himself as a coach. He helped develop two-time Mountain West all-conference selection KeeSean Johnson, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Moore, who joined Fresno State’s staff in 2017, previously worked for Petersen as a GA at Washington.
SPOTLIGHT: You know his brother, now learn about Kirby Moore
If a great football coach is simply a product of the great coaches that he’s been around, Kirby Moore is well on his way.
Moore played at Boise State under one of the best in the business in Chris Petersen. He coached as a graduate assistant under Petersen at Washington. There he connected with another legend in Jeff Tedford and followed him to Fresno State. He can have a chalk talk phone call with his brother, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, whenever he wants. But all of those headliners may pale in comparison to his dad, Tom Moore, who led Prosser High School to 21 league titles and four state championships in Washington before retiring as head coach to spend more time watching his two sons play together at Boise State.
“I’ve always been around the game,” Moore said of his calling to coach. “I went from tee boy to ball boy to helping out with the team. I think when you look up to the success they had at Prosser, they were fortunate to win four state championships or something like that. Those were your role models.”
Moore got his first official taste of coaching as the wide receivers coach at the College of Idaho in 2014. He worked in medical sales during the day and at 3:30 p.m., his coaching day would begin. That hands-on learning experience followed by his graduate assistant stint at Washington gave Moore the incremental development he needed to be ready for his first job as a full-time assistant at Fresno State in 2017.
Moore made our 30Under30 list last year after producing a 1,000-yard wide receiver in his first season. In Year 2 coaching the position, Moore helped a passing attack tally more than 3,600 yards and that same 1,000-yard receiver, KeeSean Johnson, improve to fourth in the FBS in catches (95), produce to 1,340 yards receiving and get drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
While Moore says goodbye to two of his top three receivers from 2018’s Mountain West title team, he was also ranked as the No. 1 recruiter in the Mountain West in the 2019 recruiting cycle according to the 247Sports Recruiter Rankings thanks to his efforts in landing four outstanding pass-catchers. Jalen Cropper, a four-star according to 247Sports, chose Fresno over offers from Arizona, Utah, Boise State, Cal and others and is already making a splash in preseason practice.
Maverick Morris, Clemson, Graduate Assistant (25): A national championship-winning player with the Tigers, Morris is now an offensive line graduate for Clemson. He came highly recommended to 247Sports, and those around Clemson’s building think he has an extremely bright future in coaching. “He’s going to be a great one,” said one Clemson coordinator.
Jeff Myers, Iowa State, Offensive Line Coach (27): Myers was a three-year starter on the offensive line for Matt Campbell’s Toledo Rockets. The next season he joined Toledo’s staff as a GA. One season after that he followed Campbell to Iowa State. The Cyclones named Myers a full-time assistant in 2018, and his unit paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and made life easy for true freshman QB Brock Purdy. Two Cyclone linemen earned all-conference recognition as well. Myers is considered one of the best young o-line coaches in the country.
Tommy Rees, Notre Dame, Quarterbacks Coach (27): Rees, a former Irish signal caller, played a large part in coaching Ian Book each of the last three seasons. Book led Notre Dame to the playoffs with a 68.2 completion percentage, which ranked in the top 10 nationally. Rees entered the coaching ranks at Northwestern in 2015 as a GA, helping to guide Clayton Thorson. He spent the 2016 season with the San Diego Chargers as an offensive assistant.
Bryn Renner, FIU, Cornerbacks Coach (29): One of the top young recruiters in the country, Renner helped the Panthers earn the No. 1 class in Conference USA during the 2018 cycle as Director of Player Personnel. The former North Carolina and NFL QB was promoted to an on-field role this February. Head coach Butch Davis has raved about Renner’s contributions in the past.
Christian Robinson, Florida, Linebackers Coach (29): One of the SEC’s youngest assistants, Robinson served for five years as a GA before earning his first on-field role at Florida in 2018. Robinson is a long-time disciple of Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who coached Robinson at Georgia. Robinson is one of the better recruiters in the SEC, and he helped Vosean Joseph to career highs across the board before the Bills took him in the fifth round.
SPOTLIGHT: Christian Robinson, from in-flux to future star
Robinson sat in coaching limbo after a two-year stint as a GA at Georgia, his alma mater.
The Bulldogs’ defensive coaching staff turned over in 2014 following defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s departure to Louisville, which left Robinson without a role. He had no history with the team’s new defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, which meant his two-year coaching journey may’ve come to an end.
Robinson remembers thinking at the time, “I don’t know if this is for me.” His college roommate, Ty Frix, started a company and hired Robinson, for basically free rent, to run his social media arm. Three months later Robinson prepared to sign a contract with a Nashville-based company within the same space. The day before he did so, however, Ole Miss called. The Rebels wanted him as a GA.
“It was that close,” Robinson told 247Sports. “It was a day away.”
Less than half a decade later, Robinson, 29, is entering his second season as Florida’s linebacker coach. He’s among the youngest assistants in the SEC and is a member of 247Sports’ 30Under30 list.
Considered a strong recruiter and a gifted football strategist, Robinson is among the brightest young stars in college football coaching circles. But the 2015 offseason wasn’t the only time Robinson found himself with little clarity as to his future.
Two offseasons ago, Florida hired Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State, and Mullen took Grantham, by that time the Bulldogs’ DC, with him. Robinson, still a GA at the time, stayed in Starkville through the TaxSlayer Bowl. Robinson didn’t plan to stay in Starkville under a new regime, so he was again out of a job.
Robinson did what he’d done many times in his journey: Threw his stuff into a duffle bag and drove.
Robinson hoped Grantham would give him a call for a job with the Gators, so he took a risk. He dropped his stuff off in Gainesville in a storage locker and then drove to Tampa Bay to stay with his girlfriend. Robinson waited a week and a half before he heard anything. Sitting in the car during his girlfriend’s hair appointment, his phone lit up: Dan Mullen.
“That night I drove to Gainesville,” Robinson said. “I spent about five years living out of a car on and off. As a GA it’s about who’s going to give me an opportunity.”
After five years Robinson has his chance. The Gators were better for it in 2018. Robinson’s pupil, Vosean Joseph, was drafted and he assisted in a turnaround that saw Florida go from 73rd in yards allowed per play in 2016 to 33rd last season.
Robinson hopes to one day be a coordinator or a head coach. He’s told Mullen and Grantham as much. For now, he hopes to stay in Florida for a “long time” learning and growing. — Chris Hummer
Elwyn “Rip” Rowan, Washington, Defensive Quality Control (28): A four-year starter at Austin Peay, Rowan started his coaching career in 2014 at Northwest High School in Tennessee. Since then, he’s had GA stints at Southern Miss and FAU. He was headed to Illinois this offseason, but Washington snatched him up as a quality control coach after a short stint with the Illini. Said one FBS coordinator of Rowan: “He’s a heck of a young coach.”
Dustin Royston, Middle Tennessee, Defensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator (28): A former Georgia letterman and Alabama off-field assistant, Royston is one of many young coaches from Nick Saban’s coaching tree. He joined the Middle Tennessee staff in 2017 and was named the school’s 10th assistant in Feb. 2018. Royston coached a trio of all-conference defensive linemen last year, while leading the Blue Raiders’ recruiting efforts.
SPOTLIGHT: Royston found his calling in roundabout way
For a brief period of his adult life, Dustin Royston thought he wanted to get away from the game of football. After walking on at Georgia and playing fullback for four years under Mark Richt, Royston was ready for law school. Maybe he was just being coachable.
“My dad was a high school coach,” Royston said. “He told me, ‘Don’t go into it. Don’t do it.’ Deep down I think I knew I always wanted to be a coach.”
Before law school, Royston took a year teaching high school for a program called Teach For America that pairs young qualified college graduates with underserved high schools and communities. Royston was shipped to Nashville where, in addition to his teaching role, he coached linebackers at Cane Ridge High School. With that, any hopes of avoiding the coaching bug were shot.
“I was ready for football to be over with and then I found out real quick I needed a team atmosphere, having that greater goal,” Royston said. “I was at an inner-city school in Nashville but I was around a great group of kids and learned a lot my first year — they let me coach linebackers. First year coaching it and I had no clue what I was doing. When I was in college I didn’t think I wanted to coach but I realized real quick that that’s what I was called to do.”
Just a few short years later Royston, 28, is entering his second season as defensive line coach under Rick Stockstill at MTSU and his third year at the program. In his second year as full-time assistant, Royston has added the recruiting coordinator title as well.
It’s not hard to trace the ascent. Before becoming a graduate assistant at MTSU, Royston learned how to be a GA in an off-field role at Alabama. There he learned from the likes of current Georgia co-defensive coordinators Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann, current Tennessee tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer and current Houston co-defensive coordinator, Doug Belk. He also was regularly mining the knowledge from then-assistants like Jeremy Pruitt, Mario Cristobal and Tosh Lupoi and he proudly recounts film sessions like the one with Pruitt that lasted until nearly 4 a.m.: “He didn’t even know me and I just sat in there and we started talking.”
As he continues to mine the likes of Stockstill, Tommy West and Scott Shafer on the MTSU staff for more knowledge, Royston is already making his presence felt on the field and the recruiting trail. He led the way on a monster haul for the Blue Raiders out of South Carolina. A few of the prospects that Royston was the primary recruiter for included Darius Williams, a four-star defense end on 247Sports that flipped from East Carolina, Quincy Riley, a 10.4 100 meter dash athlete that is one of the most explosive players in the region and DJ Chisolm, another 10.6 speedster that had school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. — Barton Simmons
Nathan Scheelhaase, Iowa State, Wide Receivers Coach (28): Scheelhaase had a pretty strong debut season in Ames. His pupil, David Montgomery, earned All-American honors. Can’t do much better than that. Iowa State moved Scheelhaase to wide receivers this offseason, where he’ll be tasked with replacing all-conference selection Hakeem Butler. One of the top passers in Illinois history, Scheelhaase began his coaching career with the Illini as a running backs coach and later an offensive analyst.
Glenn Schumann, Georgia, co-Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers (29): Schumann’s been at this for a minute. He joined Alabama’s staff as an undergraduate assistant in 2008 and steadily worked his way up the ladder to Director of Player Development. Smart hired Schumann for his initial Georgia staff as inside linebacker coach, and he’s now risen to the title of co-DC. He’s also an elite recruiter. Schumann finished fifth nationally last cycle in 247Sports’ Recruiter Ranking.
Alex Spanos, Northwestern, Assistant Strength Coach (27): You’d probably recognize Spanos’ face more than you would his name. Spanos is already internet famous in large part due to his viral sideline moments. But Spanos is also a rising star in the strength and conditioning field. FBS coaches would tell you the strength coach is arguably the program’s most critical hire. Spanos is at the forefront of a younger generation of strength coaches. Expect him to earn a head S&C coach role soon.
Peter Thomas, Louisville, Quality Control (27): Thomas came to Louisville from Appalachian State this offseason along with Scott Satterfield. He was the Mountaineers’ interim QB coach during the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, a game which he sat in the booth and helped call plays. Thomas played for three FBS programs in his playing career throwing passes for Colorado State, NC State and Louisiana Monroe. “He will be a good play-caller,” said one Louisville coach.
Ryan Wallace, Purdue, Tight Ends Coach (29): Wallace played for Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky and served as a GA under Bobby Petrnio and Jeff Brohm. He spent the 2016 season as the tight ends coach at Austin Peay before joining Purdue in 2017 as a quality control coach. Brohm named Wallace a full-time assistant this offseason after a spring practice audition. “I think he has a bright future,” Brohm said this offseason. Wallace’s dad, Kevin, is a five-time state championship-winning high school coach in Kentucky.
Jake Waters, UTEP, Inside Wide Receivers Coach (27): The second former Kansas State quarterback on this list, Waters has had a similar rise to Klein’s. Waters played in the CFL in 2016 while also serving as a volunteer coach at Iowa Western CC. Once his playing career ended, Waters spent a year at Iowa State as a GA before Dana Dimel hired him to coach tight ends as a full-time assistant in 2018. Says Dimel about his former QB: “He’s a future play-caller.”
SPOTLIGHT: 2 former K-State stars in the 30Under30
Bill Snyder retired after 27 years as Kansas State’s head coach this offseason, leading to a new football era in Manhattan, Kansas. But that doesn’t mean Snyder’s influence on coaching is done. Snyder’s tree is immense – from Bob Stoops to Bret Bielema to Mark Mangino – and it’s continuing to thrive.
Notably, two Snyder disciples are featured in this year’s 30-under-30: Collin Klein and Jake Waters. That pair quarterbacked the Wildcats for four straight years from 2011-2014, combing for 38 wins.
Now, Klein (29, Kansas State) and Waters (27, UTEP) are continuing Snyder’s legacy. UTEP head coach and long-time Snyder offensive coordinator Dana Dimel isn’t surprised his former signal callers have taken off quickly as FBS assistants. Klein is Kansas State’s quarterback coach, while Waters coaches inside receivers for the Miners.
Playing quarterback at Kansas State prepared both for the playbook rigors and responsibility that come with coaching.
“Our offense was so expansive at K-State,” Dimel said. “If you can learn that … and we put more time into than anybody – the Bill Snyder way – and handle the grind of K-State football and be a quarterback in that system where you’re checking everything at the line of scrimmage. It got to the point with Jake and Collin (where they) would go up there and check 75 percent of the plays. Coach (Snyder) would get so mad and say, ‘Do you ever just run a play?’ (Laughs)
“Those guys learned at a really young age.
Klein’s long been a staple of this 30-under-30 list. He started as the Wildcats’ director of recruiting in 2014 before quickly working his way up to the title of co-offensive coordinator during the 2018 season. When Chris Klieman took over at Kansas State in December, Klein was one of two coaches retained from Snyder’s staff.
“I have so much respect for Collin,” Klieman said at Big 12 Media Days.
Added Dimel: ““They know if he got moved up that fast under Bill Snyder, who is so well regarded in the college football world, he knows what he’s doing,” Dimel told 247Sports. “Coach wouldn’t do it if he didn’t.”
Waters is in his second season as a full-time FBS assistant at UTEP. Dimel knew quickly his former quarterback would one day be a coach. He’s bringing him up as a future play-caller, too. Dimel started Waters as the Miners’ tights coach to expose him to the workings along the line of scrimmage and with offensive line play. Dimel moved Waters to inside receivers this offseason so he could absorb another piece of that puzzle.
“He’s a future play-caller,” Dimel said. “I can see him rising up very, very quickly. I’ve told him, ‘Do the best job of what you’re doing today, but learn the big picture.’”
Dimel, who’s in his third stint as a head coach, has hired dozens of coaches in his long career. He always looks for a few things (outside of a sharp mind and teaching ability) when evaluating young talent: The ability to take criticism, a focus on the now (coaches don’t want players looking at tomorrow or the next job) and loyalty to the program.
Waters and Klein have those traits, according to Dimel. It’s why they’ve risen so quickly. They’re already an example to future potential members of an ever-expanding Synder coaching tree.
“I was just talking to another young person hoping to get into the profession that has that IQ,” Dimel said. “I was like, ‘Look at Jake and Collin and how fast you can rise up.’” — Chris Hummer
Tenarius Wright, Michigan, Assistant Strength Coach (29): A four-year letterman at Arkansas, Wright’s become a fast-rising name in the strength and conditioning field. One Michigan staffer told 247Sports Wright “will be a big time name in the field soon.” Wright serves as the Wolverines’ No. 2 S&C coach, but at least one school tried to poach him this offseason.
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