- Brian Bennett, College Football
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Adam Rittenberg is taking a look at some underrated coaching staffs across the country today. With that in mind, here's a list of five underrated or overlooked assistant coaches in the Big Ten. They may not get as much publicity as some of their colleagues, but you should know their names.
Minnesota's Jay Sawvel: The Gophers have become known for their standout performances in both the secondary and on special teams. Well, Sawvel coaches both positions under Jerry Kill. The 44-year-old Sawvel has worked for Kill since 2001. He tutored two All-Big Ten selections in the defensive backfield last season (Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray) and the league's punter of the year (Peter Mortell).
Iowa's Reese Morgan: Is there any position Morgan can't coach? He was Dallas Clark's position coach in 2002 when Clark won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. Morgan later moved over to coaching the offensive line, which has long been a strong suit for the Hawkeyes. In 2012, he switched to the defensive line, helping turn a struggling unit into one of the best on the team, and helping low-profile recruits like Louis Trinca-Pasat and Drew Ott excel. "He's a master teacher," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Morgan this week.
Indiana's Greg Frey: The Hoosiers' offensive line will get its due someday, we think. Quietly, this has been one of the best units in the league for the past few years, with Frey leading the way. The offensive line helped pave the way for Tevin Coleman's 2,000-yard season last year despite the lack of a passing threat for the final six games. Offensive tackle Jason Spriggs and guard Dan Feeney have developed into two of the best players at their positions in the Big Ten.
Michigan State's Mark Staten: Speaking of underrated offensive line coaches, Staten is another. The Spartans have fielded some of the best offensive lines in school history the past couple of seasons, and could be the best in the Big Ten this year with potential All-Americans in left tackle Jack Conklin and center Jack Allen. Michigan State's defensive coaches have earned most of the attention in East Lansing, but the offensive line's progress has helped the program take the next step into the elite.
Penn State's Brent Pry: Maybe it's because he's not quite as active on social media as some of his Nittany Lions peers, but Pry's name isn't mentioned as frequently as others on James Franklin's staff. It should be. The linebackers coach (and assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator) helped Bob Shoop turn Penn State's defense into one of the stingiest (and most heroic) in the nation during their first year in State College. Pry turned down a chance to be Georgia Southern's head coach last year but is certainly on track to lead his own program someday soon.
Here's a list of five underrated or overlooked assistant coaches in the Big Ten.