Though it ultimately wasn’t the most shocking news in the college football world on Wednesday, Texas Longhorns defensive line coach Bo Davis leaving for the LSU Tigers, the school he played for and previously coached at, certainly ranked as a significant blow to head coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff.
Davis is known as one of the best developers of defensive linemen in the country and as a solid recruiter, but if there’s an area where Davis’ replacement could represent an upgrade, it’s on the recruiting trail after Davis struggled to land elite players at his position since returning to Austin three years ago.
Multiple former Texas players are possible candidates, but perhaps the most intriguing coach who could be available is one of Sarkisian’s former colleagues in Tuscaloosa following Wedneday’s shocking retirement of head coach Nick Saban.
Here’s at look at four potential candidates.
Toledo DL coach Frank Okam
A three-year starter at Texas, Okam broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2014 following a six-year career in the NFL. After spending two years as the defensive line coach at Rice, Okam joined Matt Rhule’s staff in Waco, ultimately following Rhule to the NFL and coaching with the Carolina Panthers. Last year, Okam served as the defensive line coach for the Las Vegas Raiders before spending the 2023 season at Toledo.
The NFL experience certainly makes Okam an interesting candidate and he’s a sentimental choice since he played at Texas, but the concern is that he doesn’t have a proven track record as a high-level recruiter.
Houston Texans assistant DL coach Rodrique Wright
Like Okam, Wright was a standout for the Longhorns who played on the national championship team in 2005 before his NFL career was cut short due to injuries. Under former head coach Mack Brown, Wright spent four years as a student assistant and defensive special assistant, then joined the Sam Houston State coaching staff. Since spending a season at East Carolina, Wright joined Frank Wilson’s staff at UTSA, ultimately remaining in San Antonio when Jeff Traylor took over and becoming the co-defensive coordinator in 2021. Mario Cristobal hired Wright to coach defensive ends the following year prior to Wright receiving his first job in the NFL as an assistant defensive line coach under DeMeco Ryans with the Houston Texans.
As a coach, Wright has a strong track record of success, helping PJ Hall set an FCS record with 84 tackles for loss in his career at Sam Houston State and tutoring AAC Defensive Player of the Year Nate Harvey at East Carolina. In Wright’s single season at Miami, he served as the primary recruiter for three consensus four-star defensive linemen, an indicator of his upside in that area.
Wyoming AHC Oscar Giles
A standout defensive lineman for the Longhorns in the late 1980s, Giles served as a graduate assistant at Texas in 1999, returning to Austin to coach under Brown from 2005-13 after stints at Houston and SMU. Before Tom Herman brought Giles with him from Houston back to Texas, Giles spent at year at Louisiana Tech. After Herman was fired, Giles landed on Craig Bohl’s staff at Wyoming in 2022, earning a promotion to associate head coach last year.
Giles has an extensive history of developing defensive linemen for the Longhorns, including Okam and Wright, along with Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, Sam Acho, and Jackson Jeffcoat. For the Cowboys, Giles recruits central Texas and Fort Worth. During his Texas career, Giles was credited as the primary recruiter for four consensus five-star prospects, including Jeffocat, Malcom Brown, Eddie Jones, and Ja’Tavion Sanders. At Houston, Giles helped Herman and his staff land five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the only consensus five-star prospect to ever sign with the Cougars.
Alabama DL coach Freddie Roach
Saban’s retirement could put Roach in play for Texas — Sarkisian spent a year working with Roach before taking the job in Austin. At 40 years old, Roach is an up-and-coming assistant who spent time as an assistant at Murray State, South Alabama, and Ole Miss in addition to holding several roles at Alabama, including assistant strength and conditioning coach and director of player development.
What makes Roach especially intriguing is his ability as an elite recruiter. Since 2020, Roach has served as the primary recruiter for three consensus five-star prospects and the secondary recruiter for three more consensus five-star prospects. Overall, he’s helped the Crimson Tide sign 14 top-100 recruits.
The question is whether Roach would be willing to leave his alma mater, especially since the next Alabama head coach is likely to try to retain someone who can recruit as well as Roach.