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Texas hires Chris Gilbert as Director of High School Relations

The move by Steve Sarkisian should make a significant difference with Texas high school football coaches, especially in the Metroplex.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 24 Baylor at Texas Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian made a significant move to bolster his support staff with Wednesday’s news that Sarkisian hired Lancaster head coach Chris Gilbert as his Director of High School Relations, according to Mike Roach of Horns247.

The South Oak Cliff football account confirmed the hire of its alumni.

A graduate of South Oak Cliff in South Dallas, Gilbert has a long and successful history as a head coach in the Metroplex. After playing college football at Angelo State, Gilbert had stops as an assistant at Dallas Carter, Greenville, and Bryan before taking over at his alma mater in 2006. Gilbert was able to turn around the South Oak Cliff program, going 9-3 in his third season.

Gilbert then went east to Terrell and continued his success with a nine-win season in 2009 before taking the job at Lancaster in 2010. The Tigers won nine games in 2011 for the first time since 1940 and then advanced to the state championship game in 2012 for the first time in school history on the back of a 14-win season.

A member of the THSCA Region 3 Board of Directors, Gilbert has turned Lancaster into a consistent contender and should help the Longhorns improve recruiting in the Metroplex, an area where Texas has struggled in recent years.

Gilbert will take over the job formerly held by Bob Shipley, but Sarkisian said on Wednesday that Shipley will remain with the program in some capacity. Previously a football analyst under Mack Brown, Shipley came out of retirement in 2017 to serve as Tom Herman’s Director of High School Relations.

“I think we’ve been a little bit of a transition stage — I think he’s still going to be part of the program, in the exact capacity yet we don’t know,” Sarkisian said. “Bob has been a tremendous resource for me since coming on board. I really value what he brings to the program. So as we work our way through it, we’ll get to a point that Bob will definitely have a role in the program, to what extent still remains to be seen.”

Sarkisian made another addition to the support staff on Wednesday, hiring former Louisiana-Monroe offensive coordinator Eman Naghavi, according to Horns247. A standout offensive lineman at McNeese State, Naghavi was formerly an offensive line assistant under Mack Brown and Charlie Strong at Texas before returning to his alma mater and then taking the offensive line job at ULM in 2017.

Most importantly, Naghavi is a Katy graduate who is married to the daughter of Katy head coach Gary Joseph. Since Joseph took over the head coaching job at Katy in 2004, the Longhorns have only landed two prospects from the talent-rich school — running back Kyle Porter in 2016 and defensive tackle Moro Ojomo in 2018.

With Texas A&M gaining significant momentum in the Houston area, the hope is that Neghavi’s connections to Katy and the greater Houston area will help Texas gain some ground in that part of the state.

Combined, the support staff additions represent savvy moves by Sarkisian to aid his on-field assistants in reclaiming favorable positions in the state’s two biggest metropolitan areas.