Texas coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff mixes Power Five credentials with UT experience
When it comes to assembling a coaching staff, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian had high hopes when he starting going through résumés.
“I felt like when I took this job, I felt like we could go out and hire the best coaching staff in America and hire some of the best coaches in America relative to their positions,” Sarkisian told a group of Texas alums this week. “I think we’re accomplishing that as we go through it.”
Sarkisian has assembled an interesting mix of coaches that collectively have deep Power Five-level experience, a strong working knowledge of the state of Texas and solid recruiting chops.
Some he poached from Alabama. Others he’s known personally for a while. And at least one is a Texas ex who understand the pressure of playing at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
As of Friday morning, all that Sarkisian was missing was a linebackers coach. A report from Alabama surfaced late Thursday that he was going to hire Mike Stoops. However, Sarkisian told the American-Statesman early Friday that report was not true.
Sarkisian said he had someone else in mind for linebackers. "I'm really excited about who we're talking to," Sarkisian said.
Here’s a look at nine of the 10 assistants who Sarkisian has hired to join the Longhorns:
Kyle Flood, offensive coordinator/offensive line
Flood, 50, made his mark as Rutgers' offensive line coach from 2005-11 and rose to co-offensive coordinator. In 2012, he became the team’s head coach and led the Scarlet Knights to three straight bowl games.
Still, Flood was fired after the 2015 season along with the athletic director in a series of wide-sweeping department changes. Flood had been suspended for three games for making in appropriate contact with a professor over a player’s academic status. “Just business decisions,” team captain Quentin Gause told reporters afterward.
Flood went 27-24 in four seasons at Rutgers. He spent the 2017-18 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and worked alongside Steve Sarkisian. He joined the Alabama staff in January 2019. Flood’s unit won the Joe Moore Award last season for the most outstanding offensive line.
A.J. Milwee, quarterbacks
Every good quarterbacks coach should have been a good quarterback himself. Milwee was 33-5 playing for Division II North Alabama and set school records for passing yards (8,436), completions (677) and touchdowns (73). That’s where Milwee started his coaching career as a grad assistant, and he eventually landed at Akron in 2012.
Milwee was the second-youngest coordinator in FBS when he was named offensive coordinator in December 2012. He turned 34 on Tuesday. Under his guidance, first-year starter Kyle Pohl recorded a 2,400-yard season in 2013. The next year, Jawon Chisholm became only the fourth player in Akron history to reach 3,000 career rushing yards.
Milwee was an offensive analyst at Alabama the last two seasons. He was hired as Arkansas State's offensive coordinator in December but jumped to Texas when Sarkisian called.
Stan Drayton, running backs
Drayton, 49, has been with the Longhorns the last four years. He came to UT when the school hired Tom Herman prior to the 2017 season. Drayton was the associate head coach under Herman.
Drayton did not give any interviews this past season; most staff interviews were curtailed because of the pandemic. So it’s unclear how he felt about using a three-man rotation at running back. The Horns used Keaontay Ingram, Roshon Johnson and Bijan Robinson.
That rotation crumbled as the season wore on. Ingram suffered an ankle injury against Oklahoma State on Halloween. He’s now in the transfer portal. Johnson got more carries, but Robinson exploded for 443 all-purpose yards and six total touchdowns in the last two games.
Andre Coleman, receivers
Coleman, 48, was a third-round draft pick out of Kansas State and played five years in the NFL. He started his coaching career at Youngstown State but went back to Kansas State as the receivers coach from 2013-18.
Coleman came to Texas as an offensive analyst in 2019 and was promoted to receivers coach the following season. Sarkisian told the Statesman that he and Coleman have a “unique connection” and had been talking about working together for several years with either the Falcons or Crimson Tide.
“I love his confidence, but also love his humbleness,” Sarkisian said earlier this month. “I think he's got a great relationship with these kids.”
Clearly, someone was excited about the hire. Lewisville receiver Armani Winfield, a four-star recruit, committed for the 2022 class one day after Alabama won the national title and Sarkisian arrived in Austin.
Jeff Banks, tight ends/special teams
Banks, 45, is no stranger to the state of Texas. He served as Texas A&M's tight ends and special teams coordinator under Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies had one of the best special teams units in the nation in 2017.
Banks was at Alabama the last two seasons and was considered one of the Tide’s best recruiters. While with A&M, he helped land Christian Kirk, Kyle Allen and Otari Alaka. The Tide’s recruiting classes ranked No. 1 nationally in 2019 and No. 2 in 2020, according to 247Sports' composite ratings.
At Texas, Banks will find veteran Cade Brewer returning for an extra year of eligibility and highly-touted Jared Wiley at his disposal.
Peter Kwiatkowski, defensive coordinator
Kwiatkowski, 55, was a well-liked, well-respected member of the Washington Huskies' coaching staff since 2014. He held or shared the defensive coordinator title the entire time. The Huskies annually had one of the best defensive units in the Pac-12 as the school turned out 17 NFL draft picks.
Kwiatkowski also was Chris Peterson’s defensive coordinator while the two were at Boise State from 2010-13. From 2010-17, Kwiatkowski’s defenses allowed the fewest points per game (18.7) of any coordinator in college football, according to the Seattle Times.
In 2018, Kwiatkowski actually turned defensive play-calling duties over to Jimmy Lake to entice the younger coach to stay in Seattle. “It’s not about my ego and my title,” Kwiatkowski said at the time. “I know I’m a good coach and I know I have a big imprint on this defense.”
Bo Davis, defensive line
Davis, 49, played at LSU, worked at Galena Park North Shore and eventually became an Alabama assistant in 2007. He came to Texas for the first time from 2011-13 under Mack Brown. Once Brown was let go, Davis went back to Alabama for two years before he ran into an NCAA issue.
He was given a show-cause penalty after the NCAA ruled he had impermissible contact with a recruit. The ruling was upheld on appeal, and Davis essentially couldn’t be hired at the college level for two years. That term expired in 2019.
Davis’ ability to coach has never been questioned. He’s helped multiple players get to the NFL, including UT’s Cory Redding. Davis replaces Texas ex Oscar Giles, who helped Poona Ford and Charles Omenihu earn Big 12 defensive lineman of the year awards.
Terry Joseph, defensive pass game coordinator
Joseph, 47, has all kinds of Power Five experience. He’s worked at Tennessee, Nebraska, Texas A&M, North Carolina and finally Notre Dame all since 2010. He's known as a top-notch recruiter and was key in the Irish landing safety Kyle Hamilton and transfer cornerback Nick McCloud.
Joseph was a candidate to become Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, but that job ultimately went to Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman. That move likely spurned Joseph to look elsewhere.
His official title will be defensive pass game coordinator. He’s walking into a situation with Josh Thompson and D’Shawn Jamison returning at cornerback. But UT’s pass defense ranked ninth in the Big 12 last season; the Horns allowed 266.4 passing yards per game.
Blake Gideon, safeties
Gideon, 31, is the only member of the new staff who knows what it’s like to stand on that field. The Leander native was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick four straight years and was twice named a team captain.
His most well-known play was dropping a potential late interception against Texas Tech in 2008 that could have propelled UT to the national title game. Ten years later, Gideon did an extensive interview with the Statesman about how that one play has not defined him. In fact, he uses it as story fodder in his coaching career with his players.
Gideon started all 52 games of his UT career. He finished with 276 tackles, 10 interceptions and 20 pass breakups from 2008-11.
He became the special teams coordinator at Ole Miss in December 2019 after spending one season at Houston. The year Gideon was in Houston, the Cougars led the nation in blocked punts (five) and blocked kicks (six). Prior to those stops, Gideon was the cornerbacks coach at Georgia State.