Monday, February 13, 2012
Examining the candidates for the WRs coach opening
By Pedro Moura
True to his word, USC coach Lane Kiffin has gotten right to work on filling up the three assistant coaching slots created with the departures of Willie Mack Garza, Joe Barry and Ted Gilmore over the last five months.
After saying he hoped to find replacements for all three men by the end of the upcoming week, Kiffin reportedly got Marvin Sanders to replace Garza as the defensive backs coach and Scottie Hazelton to replace Barry as the linebackers coach on Sunday.
Now he has five days left to meet his initial goal by hiring on a receivers coach and giving the new hire ample time to get to know his players before spring practice begins March 6. Let's take a look at who some of the potential candidates are, listed in alphabetical order.
-- Arizona State receivers coach/passing game coordinator DelVaughn Alexander
Alexander might make the most sense of any of the candidates. A former USC receiver and graduate assistant, he's qualified for the post and familiar with the area. Known as an above-average recruiter, he could jump right in and start that part of that job before spring practice even starts.
One potential problem: He just signed on at Arizona State last month under new coach Todd Graham. But that obviously wasn't too much of a deterrent for Kiffin in hiring Sanders, who just latched on at Florida Atlantic in December.
-- Former USC receiver and graduate assistant Keary Colbert
The sentimental choice, a number of current USC players have been campaigning on Twitter for Colbert to get the job.
He, of course, spent the 2010 season as a graduate assistant for the Trojans, coaching the tight ends. He could've kept the same job last year but chose to pursue an NFL comeback -- which he successfully completed, sticking with the Kansas City Chiefs for most of the 2011 season.
Colbert is completely unproven as a recruiter but provides reason to believe he could become a good one.
-- Former UCLA interim head coach Mike Johnson
Johnson knows the area and is qualified to coach receivers at a Pac-12 school -- maybe even over-qualified. He's been a wideouts coach for Oregon State and in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons.
A candidate for the vacant head-coaching job at Akron earlier this off-season, Johnson has an Arizona background and is known as a good recruiter of junior-college players, having been an All-American at that level in his playing days.
-- Duke receivers coach/recruiting coordinator/passing game coordinator Matt Lubick
Lubick would be an interesting hire, representing a clear focus on Kiffin's part to get a good recruiter in the fold. And that would make considerable sense, considering both Sanders and Hazelton are serious question marks in that facet of their new jobs.
He's credited for signing Vontaze Burfict while the recruiting coordinator at Arizona State and Dexter McCluster while at Ole Miss, where he coached receivers. And he's coached Duke's wideouts for each of the last two years while taking on more duties.
A USC connection: He worked under Trojans defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron for two seasons at Ole Miss.
-- Clemson receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott
Consider Scott and Lubick similar candidates, young up-and-comers with developing recruiting pedigrees in the Southeast as receivers coaches and recruiting coordinators. But Scott might be even more intriguing, for a few reasons.
First of all, he's only 31. Second, he played big-time college football not long ago -- as a receiver, too. But the most interesting thing about him is how good his recruiting classes have been with the Tigers, with top-10 classes each of the past two years according to most rankings.
He has no obvious connections to USC but was sought out by Kiffin and Co. in January 2010, when John Morton was still the Trojans' receivers coach. Scott's stock has obviously improved since then.
-- LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson
Wilson would make for about as big of a splash as is possible for a receivers-coach opening. He's consistently rated as one of the best recruiters of any assistants in the country, and he has a clear connection to Kiffin, having coached under him at Tennessee in 2009.
The problem with Wilson is two-fold, though: He's already on staff at LSU, obviously a premier situation, and the NFL's New Orleans Saints are reportedly interested in him for their own receivers coach vacancy.