Florida State’s long courtship of Ron Dugans has ended, and with Dugans’ decision to remain at Miami as an assistant, FSU’s wide receiver coaching board has opened back up.
That will bother many alums and supporters because Dugan’s hiring seemed to be a slam dunk. Alas, it wasn’t, and the former Seminoles star and Tallahassee hero decided to stay with his alma mater’s rival.
New FSU coach Willie Taggart has seemed to have a “next man up” philosophy. When Dugans’ decision took longer than expected and when you began to think about his personal ties – UM coach Mark Richt was his OC at FSU and basically is mentoring him to become an OC – I started thinking on which direction Taggart might go next. Talking to reliable sources, the following names were brought up: Zach Azzanni, Matt Lubick and Grant Heard.
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Heard was the name that one source felt should have been at the top of the list from the beginning. Everyone understands why Taggart went after Dugans; he had worked with Dugans before and knew Dugans’ relationship with FSU’s program. But when it comes to combing recruiting skills and coaching skills, everyone has said Heard potentially would be better than Dugans. I believe that any time you can get qualified star alums to coach a position, you should. But Heard’s résumé is impressive.
In his five seasons at Ole Miss, he brought in quite a few top receiver prospects, as well as players at other positions, matching the recruiting criteria that seemingly is necessary to be on Taggart’s staff. One notable big-time receiver he developed is Laquon Treadwell, who was selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Another Heard recruit, wide receiver Cody Core, was selected in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. And Heard is responsible for developing Donte Moncrief, who was a third-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts.
Azzanni is the Chicago Bears’ receivers coach; he is a great teacher of the game and recruiter, and could do a great job of developing the talent currently in FSU’s wide receiver room. He was Florida’s receivers coach in 2010 before leaving to become Taggart’s OC at Western Kentucky; he also has coached at Wisconsin and Tennessee this decade. I like his energy, and his background in coaching at “big” schools across a variety of conferences as well as his recent experience in the NFL lead me to believe he is desired as a position coach.
I’m hearing he already has interviewed. I was sent a YouTube video of his and he had me ready to run a dig route.
Lubick also is a great recruiter and teacher of the position, and he has ACC ties. Lubick has done a good job at each of his stops and has picked up more responsibility in the process. He was a co-coordinator at Washington this season, and after the departure of fellow co-OC Jonathan Smith to become coach at Oregon State, Washington hired Atlanta Falcons quarterback coach Bush Hamdan to be the coordinator going forward.
For FSU fans, it will be tough to see Dugans remaining at Miami. But if FSU can land one of the three coaches mentioned above, then I still think Taggart will have gotten a winner at that position. The key moving forward is to strike quick because the recruiting dead period is over Wednesday and FSU has a lot of ground to cover in recruiting.
One final name is Kyle Valero, a FSU alum who is the assistant wide receiver coach with the Dallas Cowboys. He just completed his fourth season in Dallas; before that, he spent four years with the Detroit Lions as the assistant receivers coach and an offensive analyst. He followed Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from Detroit to Dallas. He’s been in the NFL since he graduated from FSU; he was set to be a quality control assistant before he was hired by the Lions. Dallas receivers coach Derek Dooley was named Missouri’s offensive coordinator last Friday, so Valero could have numerous job opportunities.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/willie-taggart-ron-dugans-fsu-receiver-coach/