Back in 2012, Bill Belichick decided to pluck then-special teams assistant Joe Judge from his post at Alabama under good friend Nick Saban and bring him to Foxborough. Fast-forward nearly nine years later and the New England Patriots coach is moving on a familiar path now that Judge has run off to become the new head coach of the New York Giants. According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, the Patriots are hiring former Alabama special teams quality control coach Joe Houston to be their next assistant special teams coordinator.
Houston looks like he could be taking the role of Cameron Achord, who was the assistant special teams coordinator under Judge. He's been with the organization since 2018 and the Houston hire could be an indication that he's in line for a promotion to special teams coordinator now that Judge has departed for East Rutherford. Houston, meanwhile, spent the 2019 season under Saban after coming over from Iowa State. The former USC kicker is looked at as one of the fast risers through the coaching ranks, particularly for his acumen on special teams.
That arrival of Houston isn't the only staffer that Belichick has poached from Saban this offseason as the Patriots have also brought in former Alabama graduate assistant Vinnie Sunseri to the staff as well, according to Matt Zenitz of AL.com. Sunseri, who had a cup of coffee with New England back in 2016 during his playing days as a safety, was a former fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2014.
Joe Judge is arguably the most known disciple of both Saban and Belichick, but current Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll also had the rare privilege of working with both coaching giants as well. Daboll was a graduate assistant under Saban at Michigan State in the late '90s and rose through the ranks in the NFL starting with the Belichick's Patriots in the early 2000s. He returned to New England in 2013 and spent five years with Belichick before reuniting with Saban at Alabama as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator for the 2017 season. After that campaign, he returned to the NFL as the Bills offensive coordinator.
Only time will tell what Houston's coaching career will ultimately become, but -- like Judge and Daboll -- he's going to be learning from two of the greatest coaches that have ever done it.