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Texas coaching search update: Frank Okam joins the Panthers

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The former Longhorns defensive tackle is joining Matt Rhule in Charlotte.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 05 FAU at Rice Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and new defensive coordinator Chris Ash have made decisions about which staff members to retain from head coach Tom Herman’s group of on-field assistants from the 2019 regular season, the search process for new assistant coaches now begins in earnest for the Texas Longhorns.

There’s been a lot going on and a lot of moving pieces, so it’s worth compiling everything that’s happened into one place, especially to keep track of potential candidates who remain elsewhere or end up elsewhere.

The latest

[1/21 update]: Baylor defensive line coach Frank Okam is making a big move, joining Matt Rhule in making the leap to the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. So Texas is still looking for a defensive tackles coach to work with Oscar Giles. With the staff currently out on the road recruiting, however, don’t be surprised if Director of Recruiting Bryan Carrington remains as part of the on-field staff until National Signing Day — since there aren’t any defensive tackles currently on the recruiting radar, there’s no need to make that hire immediately.

Quarterbacks coach — Mike Yurcich

Former coach — Tim Beck (NC State OC/QBs coach)

Texas officially announced the hire of Yurcich two days before the Alamo Bowl and with the departure of Beck to Raleigh, Yurcich will take over the role of coaching Sam Ehlinger and company.

Running backs coach — Stan Drayton

Drayton was one of the members of last season’s staff who was retained following the hire of Yurcich, but the story doesn’t end there — according to longtime NFL insider Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams are now in a bidding war to land Drayton, who reportedly interviewed with the Cowboys on Thursday. That phrasing makes it sound like that Drayton will take one of those jobs after making $515,000 at Texas in 2019.

[1/16 update]: As news broke on Wednesday that Texas running backs coach Stan Drayon will remain with the Longhorns, the Cowboys hired Skip Peete as their running backs coach. What about the Rams? Well, Los Angeles reportedly never had interest in Drayton.

Wide receivers coach — Andre Coleman

Former coaches — Drew Mehringer (FAU co-OC/WRs coach), Corby Meekins (reassigned to administrative position)

With the decision to balance the offensive and defensive coaching staffs with five assistants on each side of the ball, Texas will have one wide receivers coach in 2020 for the first time since 2017.

One early candidate is already off the board, as Kansas wide receivers coach Emmett Jones signed a contract extension on Friday that guaranteed his original deal through 2022 while earning a promotion to passing game coordinator that likely comes with a raise, though the school hasn’t yet disclosed that information. A potential stumbling block between Texas and Jones was his buyout, reportedly $225,000.

Now, even though the Alamo Bowl and the eight practices leading up to the game weren’t an effective enough job interview for former interim defensive coordinator Craig Naivar, former offensive analyst Andre Coleman impressed enough that he may remain on staff as an on-field assistant.

Coleman, the former Kansas State offensive coordinator who came to Austin last year, was elevated to wide receivers coach for the bowl game. According to Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods, Coleman recently interviewed for the position, but could also be a candidate to coach tight ends.

[1/13 update]: Texas names Andre Coleman wide receivers coach.

Tight ends coach — Jay Boulware

Former coach — Derek Warehime (New Mexico OC)

Other than Coleman, who could perhaps fill this role, there aren’t currently any names closely connected with this search publicly, but expect that to change in the coming days.

[1/19 update]: Texas announced the hire of former Longhorns offensive tackle Jay Boulware from Oklahoma on Saturday. He’ll also serve as the special teams coordinator (his official title is associate head coach for special teams), an area where he had some success with the Sooners.

Offensive line coach — Herb Hand

Along with Drayton, Hand was one of the first staff members retained by Yurcich after his arrival, which was not a surprising development.

Defensive line coaches — Oscar Giles

Giles was the only defensive coach retained from last year’s staff and is expected to become the defensive ends coach as the Longhorns add a defensive tackles coach.

Baylor’s Frank Okam is the leading candidate now that Tosh Lupoi took a job on Saturday as the defensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons.

Lupoi was one considered one of the best assistants among position coaches in all of college football, but he’s now about the enter his second year in the NFL and served as the co-defensive coordinator and then defensive coordinator at Alabama prior making the leap, so it’s probably fair to say that he’s not going to be a position coach in college any more.

[1/14 update]: The Football Brainiacs report that Okam will interview for the job this week, describing his potentially pending choice as a business decision that could come down to the compensation offered by both schools.

[1/19 update]: After confirmation that Okam did interview for the job, the latest report from The Football Brainiacs is that Okam may end up elsewhere. If that happens, there aren’t any names out there publicly.

Linebackers coach — Co-DC Coleman Hutzler

Former coach — Todd Orlando (USC defensive coordinator)

Following Orlando’s departure, former Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George was elevated from his role as an analyst to the interim linebackers coach for the Alamo Bowl. Since 2019 was George’s first year as an analyst, he’s not a serious candidate to earn the job permanently, but he did help flip Jaylan Ford from Utah and got former walk-on linebacker Cort Jacques ready to contribute against the Utes. His future looks bright as a coach, it just won’t be as the linebackers coach for Texas in 2020.

Like the position coaching tight ends, expect some potential candidates to emerge publicly in the next several days.

[1/14 update]: On Monday, Horns247 reported that SMU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane is a candidate to become the linebackers coach at Texas. However, reporting from Pony Stampede quickly emerged that Kane “will formally turn down the opportunity in the near future.” Since giving up his duties as a coordinator at SMU to become a position coach at Texas would represent a demotion, it’s not too surprising that a rising young coach like Kane will decline the offer.

[1/14 update]: Texas announced the hire of Coleman Hutzler from South Carolina on Tuesday. Hutzler will serve as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, but also has extensive experience coaching special teams.

Cornerbacks coach — Jay Valai

Former coach — Jason Washington (Mississippi State CB/secondary coach)

Things appeared to move quickly at this position, as Washington revealed that he wasn’t retained on Friday morning, at which point Rutgers cornerbacks coach Jay Valai emerged as the top candidate. Texas hasn’t made an official announcement about Valai joining the staff, but his bio was removed from the Rutgers website as congratulatory tweets about Valai’s addition to the staff in Austin started to pour in on Twitter.

Valai’s hire could become official at any moment.

[1/13 update]: Texas names Jay Valai cornerbacks coach.

Safeties coach — Chris Ash

Former coach — Craig Naviar (USC safeties coach)

Neither of these two moves are official following Naivar’s departure from Texas on Wednesday, but Ash either coached defensive backs of safeties throughout his entire career and Naivar’s addition to the Texas Tech staff to re-join Orlando is likewise just a matter of time.