Potential assistant coach candidates to fill out Norvell’s staff

Now that Mike Norvell has officially been hired as Florida State’s next head coach, he has to fill out his staff. We’re not expecting many, if any, of the Seminoles’ current assistants to remain in Tallahassee. Maybe Odell Haggins, Telly Lockette, or Ron Dugans.

Regardless, there will be a lot of new faces on the sideline in 2020. Here are some potential assistant coaches we think Norvell could try to fill out his staff with. This list will continue to be updated until hires are officially made.

Offensive Coordinator/QBs coach

Kevin Johns, Memphis (44)

Chip Long, Notre Dame (36)

Kenny Dillingham, Auburn (29)

Starting off at offensive coordinator, there are some interesting names that Norvell could tap to fill the spot. Kevin Johns, his former OC at Memphis, was a big part behind the Tigers’ top-10 offense in 2019. Like Norvell, he’s a quarterback specialist and actually recruited FSU QB Wyatt Rector to Western Michigan in 2017. He seems like an ideal fit unless Norvell wants to land an established option from a power program.

Chip Long followed Norvell from Arizona State to Memphis. He spent one season there, when the Tigers had their second most deadly offense of all time, before being hired by Notre Dame. Long has helped the Irish have consistent success on offense opposite QB Ian Book. ND set a record for rushing yards in a season in 2017, his first with the team. He’s been the primary play-caller since his hiring. His current salary terms aren’t available but it would probably take $750K+ to get him to Tallahassee.

Dillingham also followed Norvell from ASU to Tennessee. He worked with QB’s in 2016, handled TE’s in 2017, and was the offensive coordinator for Memphis in 2018. Following that he was hired by Auburn and has been instrumental in the development of true freshman Bo Nix. His $500K salary isn’t insurmountable by any means.

UPDATE 12/9, 1:30 PM

FSU will hire Kenny Dillingham to be its next offensive coordinator according to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel.

Running Backs Coach

David Johnson, Tennessee (48)

Anthony Jones, Memphis (33)

David Johnson has coached all over the offensive side of the ball during his career and was the wide receivers coach for Memphis in 2016-17. He was hired as a WR coach by Tennessee for the 2018 season and assumed the role of RB coach in 2019. He could fill the same role at FSU. Johnson has coached nine NFL draft picks during his coaching career. He currently makes $500K so it would take a raise to get him on staff.

Anthony Jones has handled the running back duties for Memphis over the past two seasons. He’s coached three running backs in his two seasons who have gone on to record 1K+ rushing yards under his tutelage and helped break the school rushing record in 2018. Jones is making just $130K with the Tigers and a salary bump should have him interested in the ‘Noles.

Wide Receivers Coach/Recruiting coordinator

Ron Dugans, FSU (42)

John Simon, Memphis (40)

Del Alexander, Notre Dame (48)

It’d be smart for Norvell to see what he can do to keep Ron Dugans on staff. Dugans is solid at developing wide receivers and he would be big on this staff with his recruiting connections to Florida. If Norvell can’t keep him, there are a few options.

John Simon is Memphis’ current WR’s coach, hired for the 2019-20 season from ASU. A former NFL running back, he’s spent time coaching all over the offensive side of the ball. His coaching has helped the Tigers have a back to back 1K receiver. He made $325,000 in 2018 with the Sun Devils. Simon also locked down the recruiting coordinator role for Memphis.

Del Alexander coached with Norvell at Arizona State for a few seasons before being hired by Notre Dame where he’s handled receivers for the past three years. Norvell may reach out to him to join the staff given their connections.

UPDATE 12/13, 9:45 a.m.

Norvell has decided to retain Dugans as his wide receivers coach. I really love this move because Dugans is one of the most popular assistant coaches on staff and like Odell, is a respected former ‘Nole. His ties to Florida should only help Norvell on the recruiting trail early in his tenure at FSU.

Tight Ends Coach

Telly Lockette, FSU (45)

Will Hall, Tulane (39)

Like Dugans, Telly Lockette has a lot of recruiting connections in the state, particularly in South Florida. He could be very useful in that aspect for Norvell. Plus, he’s already familiar with the program after spending the past two seasons in Tallahassee.

Will Hall coached under Norvell in 2018 as the TE’s coach. He was quickly swooped up by Tulane over the offseason to lead its offense. Hall would get an opportunity to earn his stripes at the highest level for a few seasons.

Offensive Line Coach

Ryan Silverfield, Memphis (39)

Chris Thomsen, TCU (49) (NEW 12/8/19, 10 PM)

Ryan Silverfield has been Norvell’s right-hand man on offense since he accepted the Memphis job in 2016. Silverfield previously coached with Norvell at Arizona State before spending some time in the NFL.

He’s been the architect behind one of the best G5 offensive lines with the Tigers while also guiding the overall offense to success. Norvell will certainly want to continue their partnership unless Silverfield is hired as the next head coach at Memphis, which is a possibility. He currently rakes in $295,000.

Silverfield was a candidate for the Broyles Award in 2018, given annually to CFB’s top assistant coach.

Chris Thomsen coached alongside Norvell at Arizona State as an offensive line coach and he’s held the same position on Gary Patterson’s staff at TCU since 2017. If Silverfield is named the next HC at Memphis, Norvell may want to reach out to Thomsen.

UPDATE 12/19, 12:30 AM

Chris Thomsen is headed to Tallahassee to join Mike Norvell and company.

Defensive Coordinator

Adam Fuller, Memphis (43)

Dan Lanning, Georgia (32)

With Harlon Barnett certainly not returning to Florida State in 2020, Norvell has to begin to rebuild the Seminoles’ defense. There are a few interesting possibilities for his first defensive coordinator in Tallahassee.

A former DC at Marshall, Adam Fuller took over the same role at Memphis in 2019 and he’s notably improved the Tigers in a conference known for creating deadly offenses.  He made $400,000 at Memphis this season, so a decent raise should have him interested.

Dan Lanning and Norvell’s connection dates back to Arizona State in 2012-13. He joined Memphis in 2016 and spent a few seasons coaching inside linebackers before getting an opportunity under Kirby Smart. He also spent some coaching with Alabama in 2015, when the Crimson Tide won the college football playoff.

Lanning is Georgia’s defensive play-caller and has the potential to develop into one of the best defensive minds in college football. He would be a welcome addition to Norvell’s staff. Lanning made $750,000 in 2019 with the Bulldogs and would need a significant raise to make the jump to Florida State.

UPDATE 12/11, 8:15 p.m.

According to Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat, FSU is planning to hire Memphis’ Adam Fuller as its next defensive coordinator. Fuller improved the Tigers’ defense by a wide margin during his one season in Memphis.

UPDATE 12/12, 5:15 p.m.

Defensive Line Coach

Odell Haggins, FSU (52)

Paul Randolph, Texas Tech (53)

Jackie Shipp, Nevada (57)

Without a doubt, if Odell Haggins wants to continue his coaching career, he has a spot on Norvell’s staff. Haggins bleeds Florida State and he seems like an ideal mentor to the former Memphis coach as he begins to learn what the Seminoles are all about. His ties to the state of Florida would also help out with recruiting.

Paul Randolph worked with Norvell at ASU before following him to Memphis, coaching the defensive line from 2016-18. Following that, he was hired to the same position by Matt Wells at Texas Tech. Depending on how Norvell wants to do things, he may reach out to Randolph.

Another option is Jackie Shipp from Nevada. Shipp and Norvell also worked together in Arizona for a few seasons. He coached at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops earlier in his career and now is at Nevada. Shipp will be among the fallback options if Norvell misses out on his top choices.

UPDATE 12/10: Odell Haggins becomes Norvell’s first official assistant coach on staff.

Linebackers Coach

Kevin Clune, Memphis (48)

Keith Patterson, Texas Tech (55)

Clune was promoted to Memphis’ linebackers coach in 2019 and currently makes $200,000. He’s a former defensive coordinator at Oregon State and Utah State, where he helped mold Bobby Wagner and Kyler Fackrell into NFL Draft picks. Wagner is one of the best LBs in professional football. He should be on the table as an option if Norvell wants to bring him along.

Keith Patterson worked with Norvell at Tulsa and Pittsburgh earlier in their careers. He recently was the defensive coordinator Arizona State and Utah State is currently the DC at Texas Tech. Patterson makes $600K so it may be hard to ask him to take a demotion to a position coach and less salary to come to FSU.

Defensive Backs Coach

Marcus Woodson, Auburn (38)

Scott Symons, Liberty (33)

TJ Rushing, Memphis (36)

Marcus Woodson worked at Memphis from 2016-17 as the DBs coach and during his tenure, the Tigers defense forced 60 turnovers including 32 interceptions. He joined Auburn’s staff in 2018 in the same role. Known as an ace recruiter, Woodson will also be able to lend his skills there. He has a salary of $300,000 at Auburn.

Scott Symons spent 2018 as the inside linebackers coach under Norvell but he has a lot of experience coaching safeties. He was hired as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach by Hugh Freeze at Liberty for 2019. A young coach, it may not take much to pry him away to college footballs highest level.

TJ Rushing is a former super bowl champion whose coaching career began at Arizona State. He coached DBs for the Sun Devils in 2016-17 before Norvell hired him to the same position at Memphis in 2018. With the Tigers, he’s continued to make incremental improvements to their defensive backfield. Rushing made $265,000 this season.

Special Teams Coordinator

Pete Lembo, Memphis (49)

Joe Lorig, Penn State (46)

Pete Lembo is Memphis’ current special teams’ coordinator and the Tigers have fielded a solid unit in 2019. They are ranked 3rd in SP+ and that would obviously be a welcome addition to Florida State after some of the special teams’ miscues that we’ve seen throughout the past few seasons. He’s been a head coach at three different stops and his experience would be nice to have on the staff. Lembo makes $300,000.

Joe Lorig and Norvell worked together at ASU before he was hired by Memphis in 2016. In his first season, the Tigers returned 3 kickoffs for scores for the first time in 21 years. He also guided Tony Pollard into one of college footballs top returners. Pollard tied the NCAA record with seven kickoff returns for TDs during his career.

Lorig is currently at Penn State making $360,000 a year. Either he or Lembo would be ideal hires for Norvell.

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Josh Storms, Memphis (39)

The relationship between Storms and Norvell dates back to Arizona State. Storms followed him to Memphis when Norvell was hired in 2016 and has been with him ever since as his strength and conditioning coach.

In 2018, he earned the Master Strength and Conditioning Coach distinction by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa). The honor is the highest given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession.

Director of Football Operations

Jeff Kupper, Memphis (40)

Jeff Kupper has held down the Director of Football Operations job at Memphis for a few years prior to Norvell’s arrival and now he could come with him to Tallahassee. He’s the “go-to guy” for all administrative duties and plays a big role behind the scenes for the Tigers.

He also spent time with Texas, Ohio, and Columbia.

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