Getty Images

BYU turns to Rice assistant to round out coaching staff

Leave a comment

An offseason of coaching staff upheaval has come to an end in Provo.

AJ Steward, the football program announced Tuesday, has been named as the Cougars running backs coach.  The 28-year-old Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, had spent the past four seasons as the running backs coach at Rice before moving on to BYU.

Steward’s first job at the collegiate level came as a graduate assistant for the Owls, meaning this move marks his first coaching gig outside of that Conference USA program.

“AJ is known as an excellent recruiter and for his ability to develop players,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. “He has done great things as a running backs coach and brings unique experience from an outstanding academic school, which helps him understand one of the important focuses we have here at BYU. I’m excited to welcome AJ to our coaching staff.”

“My wife and I are tremendously excited and are blessed to join the BYU football family,” Steward said. “I am grateful for Coach Sitake, Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and Coach Grimes for entrusting me with this amazing opportunity to come to Provo and be part of the rich football tradition at BYU. I sincerely look forward to not only making a difference on the field but also making a life-long impact on the young men in the program.

“I also want to express my appreciation to Coach David Bailiff and Rice University for such a great experience, which has granted me the opportunity to learn, build and grow into the coach that I am today.”

Including Steward, five of the 10 coaches on Sitake’s staff weren’t with the program a year ago.

Three weeks after putting the finishing touches on a 4-9 season, the lowest point for the program since a 3-8 1970 campaign, BYU hired LSU line coach Jeff Grimes as its new coordinator. Grimes replaced Ty Detmer, who was fired in late November after directing an offense that was 123rd (out of 129 teams) in scoring and 118th in yards.  In late December, three new offensive assistants were added as well.

On the defensive side, longtime assistant Steve Kaufusi stepped down from his post as linebackers coach last month and was replaced by Preston Hadley, who was named safeties coach.  Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers job.  All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.

Matt Wells adds former assistant Mark Tommerdahl as special teams coach at Texas Tech

Photo by John Weast/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas Tech officially announced the hiring of Mark Tommerdahl to be the new special teams coach for the Red Raiders on the staff led by Matt Wells. Tommerdahl takes on the title of associate head coach as well as special teams coordinator and assistant offensive line coach.

Wells previously had Tommerdahl as a special teams coach at Utah State in 2017. Tommerdahl spent the 2018 season as special teams and tight ends coach at Purdue. He has had previous stops at Cal, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Wyoming during his coaching career since 1984.

During their one season together at Utah State in 2017, Wells and Tommerdahl had a special teams unit that ranked fourth in the nation in blocked punts and owned a top 25 kickoff return defense. Last year, Tommerdahl’s Purdue special teams ranked 39th in punting (while Texas Tech ranked 61st) and 29th in punt return defense (Texas Tech was 40th). Purdue kicked just one kickoff out of bounds last season, while Texas Tech kicked six kickoffs out of bounds.

Troy LB Tron Folsom says he will enter NCAA transfer portal

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of Troy’s top defensive players will be looking to play somewhere new in 2019. Tron Folsom announced he will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal to begin evaluating any potential options for his final year of eligibility on the football field.

“After talking it over with my family, I will enter my name in the transfer porta and re-open my recruitment as a graduate transfer in the spring,” Folsom said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Friday. “I have no specific schools in mind and will be open minded during this process.”

As a graduate transfer, Folsom will be eligible to play immediately for whatever his new program may be this fall. He will have just one year of eligibility remaining after playing in a total of 38 games for Troy over the past three seasons.

Folsom recorded 9.0 tackles for a loss among his 82 total tackles for the Trojans last season. Folsom also had three sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

30-year old Aussie punter from Maryland enters transfer portal

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After starting each of Maryland’s last 24 games, punter Wade Lees is ready to explore his potential options. According to a report on Friday, Lees has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to be in contact with other programs who may be in need of a new punter on their football roster.

The oldest player in the Big Ten last season, Lees has one year of eligibility remaining.

Lees punted 67 times with a punting average of 40.93 yards per punt last season for Maryland.  He punted five times inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in a game against Penn State last November. It was the second time he had downed five punts inside the 20-yard line in a game during his Maryland career. In 2017, Lees punted 64 times for an average of 39.23 yards per punt. Those numbers put him right about in the middle of the Big Ten punting categories with the second-highest average number of punts per game. Lees started for Maryland for all 13 games played in his freshman season of 2016 as well.

With Lees potentially on the move, Maryland’s roster has just one player listed as a punter on the official team roster published online. Bentley Faulkner, who did not appear in a game in 2018 as a true freshman, figures to take over the punting duties during spring football practices. Expect Maryland head coach Mike Locksley to try adding a punter before the fall, if just for depth as the worst-case scenario.

Mike Leach’s final lecture will stream live through the magic of the internet

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Technology is a wonderful thing. And because of it, we’ll all be able to witness to Mike Leach instructing his class this spring semester at Washington State. Specifically, the world will be invited to observe the final session of Leach’s course, Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies, in late April.

Leach’s course is an extracurricular course being offered by Washington State with four separate sessions beginning in late March. The course is only available to WSU students, of course, but WSU knows there is much to be gained by allowing Leach’s class to be viewed by others outside of Pullman.

According to a statement released by Washington State, the final session will summarize all four previous lectures and there will be a live Q&A session. Those watching the live feed will be invited to submit questions in text form for the Q&A too.