‘Twas the night before coaches could start back on the recruiting trail, and FSU is still in limbo about two possible coaching positions. Definitely not what fans were expecting but questions loom: What is taking so long and will this effect recruiting?
The process is taking a while, but a lot of this has to do with having coaching targets who were in College Football Playoff. That’s aiming high for a new coach, but many FSU fans believe that with the talent returning and the school’s location in a recruiting hotbed, the opportunity is there to make history in becoming the first staff to win a national championship with a black head coach.
So far, the defensive staff is on point with Harlon Barnett as the coordinator. Barnett oversaw a Michigan State unit that ranked seventh nationally in total defense this season and is considered a defensive back technician. He brought Mark Snyder with him to coach defensive ends. Snyder has a history of developing All-Americans and has been a coordinator in the Big Ten, the old Big East and the SEC; he also has head-coaching experience.
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Willie Taggart brought recruiting dynamo Raymond Woodie, who has been named recruiter of the year in every conference in which he has coached, with him from Oregon. There’s also holdover defensive line coach Odell Haggins, whose résumé speaks for itself with a who’s who of defensive tackles in the NFL.
There’s also Alonzo Hampton and Lance Guidry; I think both will be hired, but how they fit remains to be seen. Taggart insisted that Hampton would be one of the 10 on-field assistants and we know he is in Tallahassee, but I’m hearing Guidry – who has coached DBs in the past – is all but a done deal. (More on my finalized coaching list in a moment.)
The offensive staff has been a bit of a mystery since the announcement that Mario Cristobal was being promoted to coach at Oregon. Taggart did hire Telly Lockette, who coached with him at USF and is the former coach at Miami Central, where he had Dalvin Cook. Lockette will coach tight ends, but his real job is to not let Miami build a wall around south Florida on the recruiting trail.
Taggart also brought Donte Pimpleton with him from Oregon. Pimpleton has been with Taggart at every stop. Cam Akers is a given, and if Pimpleton can do with Jacques Patrick and Khalan Laborn what he did with Marlon Mack at USF …
The biggest hire of all was offensive line coach Greg Frey, a former ‘Nole who was hired off the Michigan staff. Before his stint with the Wolverines, Frey did excellent work at Indiana – and I have to believe FSU has better o-line talent than Indiana.
That leaves two jobs: quarterback coach and wide receiver coach. Taggart has made it clear he will call plays himself, but I am hearing he will give the offensive coordinator title, if necessary, to make it more enticing (and more lucrative) for a coach to come on board. If current Alabama offensive analyst Mike Locksley is hired, then this offensive staff would be a home run; Locksley is a respected coach and an ace recruiter in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, which has become a recruiting hot bed.
I’m hearing Locksley would like to get back to coaching quarterbacks and that he would love to have the offensive coordinator title attached to his name again. I also heard he and Taggart hit it off. But with current Alabama OC Brian Daboll potentially returning to the NFL, Locksley could be in play to become Alabama’s OC.
If FSU misses on Locksley, that leaves JaMarcus Shephard, currently Purdue’s wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator and a guy who was an analyst on Taggart’s staff at Western Kentucky. That is a huge drop-off from Locksley. Shephard is a good coach, but he definitely doesn’t have the same kind of résumé. Shephard can recruit, but can he truly give assistance to Taggart in game-planning?
Potentially, though, both he and Locksley could be hired. That would make the offensive staff on par with anything in the ACC.
Here is how I think this will shake out.
That would make Hampton a well-paid analyst. I know Taggart said Hampton would have an on-field job. But I also heard Taggart said he wouldn’t consider an OC or a quarterback coach – then he met with Locksley. Adding Locksley and Shephard? That’s too tough to turn down. Now get it done and get to ‘crooting.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/willie-taggart-staff-fsu-complete-soon