New Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman announced the hires of six staff members on Tuesday, including four assistant coaches.
Following the former Longhorns graduate assistant from the Houston Cougars are Corby Meekins, Derek Warehime, Oscar Giles, and Jason Washington, in addition to two members of the support staff in Fernando Lovo and Derek Chang.
With the assistant coaches, Herman will determine positions and titles at a later time.
"I'm thrilled to have all of these guys on board and hitting the ground running during this really important time for us," Herman said. "All four of our coaches were with us in Houston and have strong ties and relationships in the state of Texas, so they will be a huge asset in recruiting right now. They're terrific coaches, as well, so they'll do a great job building and developing our team going forward. Fernando and Derek do a tremendous job, are totally aligned with our coaches, and critical to the success of our program."
Meekins is a longtime Houston-area head coach who spent 14 successful seasons at Houston Westfield prior to joining the Cougars staff under Herman in 2015, compiling a 114-27 record there as the head coach.
"It's a great opportunity, and I'm really excited to be wearing the burnt orange and white," Meekins said. "I've grown up and lived my whole life in the state of Texas. This is a great place and a great city. I'm blessed to be able to be a part of this."
In addition to spending almost his entire coaching career in the state’s largest city, Meekins has further ties to the high school football coaches in Texas because he served on the Texas High School Coaches Association Board of Directors from 2009-12. He also spent nearly ten years on the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association Board of Directors.
The key figure in landing former player Ed Oliver, the first five-star prospect to ever sign with Houston, Meekins also secured a commitment from one of his other formers players, four-star wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, until he flipped his pledge to Florida on National Signing Day 2016.
Since Meekins has such deep ties to the Houston area, he will likely serve as the key recruiting presence there for Herman’s staff at Texas.
Meekins first met Herman in the early 2000s when the new Longhorns head coach was an assistant coach at Sam Houston State.
Warehime spent the previous two seasons under Herman as Houston’s offensive line coach after leaving his role at New Mexico State as the tight ends coach, run game coordinator, and special teams coordinator for three seasons.
"I'm really excited to be here with Coach Herman," Warehime said. "He's been a mentor of mine for the past 10 years since I got into college coaching. I'm fired up to get with the players and help them develop into what they came here to be. We want to make them all champions in life and in football."
The last hire of Herman’s initial staff at Houston, Warehime’s time as an undersized center at Tulsa reminded Herman of his time as an undersized wide receiver for California Lutheran.
“I think him knowing the type of player that I was, undersized, so I had to be an effort guy and a chip-on-my-shoulder guy, and that’s kind of my style of coaching,” Warehime told The Daily News. “I think that’s what he saw in me as a young coach, as a graduate assistant.”
Warehime’s ties to Herman date back to 2007 when the two were on the Rice staff together. At that point, Herman was Rice’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while Warehime served as a graduate assistant.
“We really just kind of clicked,” Warehime said.
In 2015, Warehime’s offensive line at Houston lost 34 games due to injuries, including three players lost for the season. Despite playing 11 different lineups in 14 games, the unit ranked No. 27 nationally in stuff rate and No. 30 in rushing yards per attempt.
Second-team All-AAC selection Alex Cooper played three different positions for the line and all-conference honorable mention selection Will Noble emerged at center despite the fact that he was scheduled to redshirt for the first six games.
“At the end of the day it’s our job to prepare these kids for the most difficult moment, and that’s what we do every day,” Warehime said. “We stress them. We’re hard on them. We love on them so whenever they go out there on that field with their brothers, they can feel comfortable and go cut loose and play ball the way everybody wants to go play ball.”
An Oklahoma native, Warehime started 34 games at center for Tulsa from 2001 to 2004 and was an first-team All-WAC as a senior.
A Texas defensive end from 1987-90 who compiled 22 career sacks, Giles was a longtime member of Mack Brown’s staff in Austin, so he would be making his return to the Longhorns if he joins Herman’s staff.
"I'm really excited," Giles said. "It's a great opportunity to get back where I started and have a chance to work with some great kids. I have the passion inside me where I can't wait to get out on that football field and work with those kids, share with them the experiences I had as a player and the experience the first time I was here as a coach."
Giles and Herman were graduate assistants together under Brown in 1999 before Giles left for SMU and then his first stint at Houston. In 2005, Brown brought Giles back to Austin, where he was a successful defensive ends coach, tutoring stars like Tim Crowder, Brian Robison, Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, and Jackson Jeffcoat.
After Charlie Strong declined to retain Giles after he took over from Brown, Giles followed former Longhorns defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to Louisiana Tech, helping the Bulldogs record 114 tackles for loss in 2014.
Giles joined Herman’s staff at Houston in 2015 and will almost certainly serve as the defensive line coach once again.
A San Antonio native and Texas State alum, Washington coached with Herman at his alma mater and then Rice before returning to San Marcos.
"I'm really excited for the opportunity to come to Texas," Washington said. "Growing up watching Texas and watching the great players who have played here and the great coaches who have coached here, I am really excited to be able to wear the burnt orange."
At Houston, Washington was responsible for helping William Jackson III develop into one of the nation’s top cornerbacks — in 2015, Jackson III broke up 23 passes to lead the nation. The Cougars ended the season with 21 interceptions.
According to Washington’s bio, the Cougars also got much better on special teams last season:
Houston's special teams saw significant improvement in Washington's first season. The kickoff return unit improved from 125th to 28th, kickoff return defense from 75th to 45th, punt return from 99th to 41st and punt return defense from 22nd to fourth.
Lovo will hold the position of Assistant AD for Football Operations, the same position he held at Houston. In his previous position, he had a variety of roles:
He worked directly with Houston's strength, sports medicine, football video, equipment and administrative staffs. He was also a liaison with the athletics communications, athletics administration, marketing, development, academics, game day operations and the athletics business office.
At Houston, Chang’s official title was Director of Football Recruiting. He now holds the position of Director of Player Personnel for Herman. Chang worked in the production departments at ESPN and the Longhorn Network in addition to a stint as a football recruiting assistant at Ohio State when Herman was in Columbus. The Texas alum joined Herman’s staff at Houston in March of 2016.
There were reports on Sunday that Houston co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Craig Naivar was also set to join Herman’s staff in Austin, but it appears that he will stay at Houston at least through the bowl game. He could be in line for a promotion on the Cougars staff if interim head coach Todd Orlando or offensive coordinator Major Applewhite earn the job Herman just left.