March 3, 2011

Dienhart: Top position-coach hires

PART I: Football assistant dream team | PART II: All-star staffs by conference

We spent two days spotlighting some of the best assistant coaches in the nation.

Today, we spotlight the best position-coach hirings this offseason.

The buzz: He brings his high-scoring, one-back scheme from Oklahoma State to Morgantown, where Holgorsen -- who turns 40 in June -- will serve as coach-in-waiting in 2011 before taking over the program. He learned at the feet of Mike Leach and is taking the one-back offense to another level.
Quarterbacks: Shawn Watson, Louisville
The buzz: Watson, 51, brings a wealth of experience to Derby City, having most recently served as offensive coordinator at Nebraska. Watson, a passing-game guru, also has coordinated the offense at Colorado and was head coach at FCS member Southern Illinois.
Running backs: Thomas Hammock, Wisconsin
The buzz: He was the lone assistant retained by new Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, but Hammock was lured to Wisconsin last week after John Settle left for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Hammock, who turns 30 in July, is a top-notch recruiter who did a good job grooming runners such as Duane Bennett at Minnesota. Hammock also coached Garrett Wolfe at Northern Illinois.
Receivers: Ted Gilmore, USC
The buzz: He arrives from Nebraska, where he spent the past six seasons and coached five wide receivers who finished among the school's top eight in career receptions. Also a top recruiter, Gilmore -- who turns 44 on March 21 -- has coached at Colorado, Purdue and Wyoming, among other stops.
Tight ends: Jim Mastro, UCLA
The buzz: He spent 11 seasons at Nevada and played a big role in helping Chris Ault install and tweak the "Pistol" attack. In addition to working with Bruins tight ends, Mastro, 45, will play a big role in the continued development of the running component of UCLA's version of the "Pistol."
The buzz: He spent the past four seasons as line coach at Miami. The Hurricanes paced the ACC in total offense and ranked third in rushing offense in 2010. Before landing at Miami, Stoutland, 48, built some strong lines at Michigan State and produced six All-Big Ten selections.
Coordinator: Manny Diaz, Texas
The buzz: One of the sport's rising stars, Diaz enters his first season in Austin as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He's a cerebral coach who helped turn around defenses at Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State before landing at Texas. Diaz who turns 37 on March 14, will be a head coach one day.
The buzz: He will bring much-needed toughness to the Longhorns' front. Davis, 39, spent eight of the past nine seasons coaching under Nick Saban at Alabama, LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. In 2010, Davis helped guide a unit that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense (13.5 ppg), fifth in total defense (286.4 ypg), ninth in rushing defense (110.2 ypg) and seventh in pass efficiency defense (103.5) while leading the SEC in all four categories.
The buzz: Dan Mullen hired Collins from Florida International, where he did a standout job in his first season as coordinator in helping FIU win its first bowl in 2010. Collins, 38, whose unit paced the Sun Belt in total defense in last season, also will serve as co-coordinator for Mississippi State. Before heading to FIU, Collins was an assistant at UCF and Georgia Tech.
The buzz: Fighting Illini coach Ron Zook loves to hire former NFL coaches, so he was thrilled to tab Gillhamer, 55, who spent the past seven seasons coaching safeties with the Carolina Panthers. Gillhamer has 11 years of NFL experience, having last coached in the college ranks in 2003 with Louisville, where he was defensive coordinator. He also has coached at Oregon, Utah, San Jose State, Rutgers and Nevada.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for He can be reached at, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter. is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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