First up, we have a great interview/podcast from the Athletic talking to Alabama football’s new GM, Courtney Morgan.
If you have 25 minutes, give it a listen. Morgan isn’t quite as hidden behind coach speak as many coaches are, so he gives some real nuggets of insight into the recruiting process and how he approaches things.
At the end, he also gave two points for rules in college football that he thinks need to be changed:
- Support staff needs to be able to go to visit recruits and prospects on the road. They’re often the primary point of contact for the recruit’s families and their guide on campus, but are prohibited from actually leaving campus.
- There needs to be a fair way for the transfer portal windows to take into account schools that are on the quarter system and ones on a semester system. Whether that’s moving around the portal window, or just allowing schools on semesters to admit students in February.
Speaking of support staff, DeBoer hired another one:
One way DeBoer is squashing concerns appears to be by hiring a well-regarded support staff. On Tuesday, multiple outlets reported that DeBoer hired another respected recruiter. Eron Hodges, who’d spent the past two years at TCU, is set to join DeBoer as an associate director of player personnel. Hodges’ appointment comes days after DeBoer hired Jatavis Sanders as director of recruiting strategy.
Hodges, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, started his coaching career as an Olympics sports strength and conditioning coach at Notre Dame in 2012. He served as a graduate assistant at Kent State from 2013 to 2014. He was a recruiting analyst with Ohio State in 2015, working under Urban Meyer. Hodges also led Purdue’s player personnel department for two seasons before stops at Texas Tech (director of recruiting), Purdue (defensive analyst and recruiting coordinator) and TCU.
Hodges is regarded as “one of the top off-field recruiters in the country” according to 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong. 247’s Matt Zenitz was the first to report Hodges’ hire. With the Horned Frogs, Hodges spent last season working with cornerbacks as an assistant cornerbacks coach, per his LinkedIn.
That’s a pretty solid resume for a new Player Personnel Director. I’ll take it.
Next up, we also got a brief interview with Kalen DeBoer at the Senior Bowl
By the positions they play — quarterback Austin Mack, center Parker Brailsford and wide receiver Germie Bernard — each can offer Milroe some valuable perspective ahead of DeBoer’s first spring practice.
“From a staff standpoint, we’re really looking forward to next week, to be in and around our guys, spending a lot of time with the team back on campus. But those that have come with us from Washington, they certainly have an understanding of the system, what certain concepts are called, how we teach them,” DeBoer said Wednesday at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. “So hopefully back on campus they’re picking up on those things with Jalen, and Austin (Mack). As well as having a center like Parker who knows all the calls, we can hit the ground running here next week when it comes to installing offense and systems.”
Giving a press conference surrounded by microphones 1 foot from your face in a concrete tunnel in Mobile while construction vehicles are beeping obnoxiously is far from ideal, but DeBoer happily answered a barrage of questions for a little bit.
I really liked his answer when asked about his new defensive coordinator, Kane Wommack:
Why did DeBoer target Wommack to be his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa?
“I just know he’s really good,” DeBoer said. “I saw him every single day in practice there in 2019, going against him. And I think he’s just continued to take those steps forward the year after I left. Him being a head coach and especially understanding everything here in Alabama, the state, I know he’s a relationship guy. He just brings a lot of energy and organizational skills that I know are going to be really important for our program.
“I know it says a lot about the University of Alabama to be able to pull someone like Kane and all the things that he had going for him with the success he’s had a South Alabama.”
He deadpanned that first line and then gave it a long pause for emphasis.
And, to be quite honest, I agree. As much as I was happy with DeBoer as the choice for head coach and bringing in Ryan Grubb (who I wanted to be Alabama’s OC a year ago), hiring Wommack at DC just might be my favorite move so far.
More to come from me soon on this as I’m working on a whole piece about his scheme... But for now: this guy is good. Be excited.
We also heard a lot from Washington QB, Michael Penix, yesterday, as he was at the Senior Bowl in Mobile and got asked plenty of questions about both Kalen DeBoer and OC Ryan Grubb.
Some quarterback coaches take a calm, measured approach with their passers even when they’re upset. It’s the “quarterback whisperer” approach; one that might help a quarterback maintain an even-keeled demeanor — always a good thing at the most important position on the field — not to mention the benefit of relationship-building.
Others are more old-school, and will get in a quarterback’s ear the same as any assistant coach would at any other position. New Alabama football offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb is a quarterbacks coach now, but he started in the business as an offensive line coach. So it should come as no surprise that he’s not the whispering type. At least, not according to Washington’s Heisman Trophy finalist QB of last year, Michael Penix.
“Whenever things aren’t going right,” Penix said Wednesday at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, “he definitely will speak up and make his presence felt.”
Also not surprising: the old offensive line coach in Grubb sometimes comes out when things aren’t right up front. New offensive line coach Scott Huff, apparently, has a ready-made graduate assistant in Grubb.
“You can hear it the way he talks to offensive linemen,” Penix said. “He does certain things to help those guys and he can talk about their schemes and their footwork. You can tell he knows what he’s talking about with that group.”
Added former Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten: “In team offense meetings, he’ll point it out to you. He’s a great quarterbacks coach and an offensive mastermind, but if the OL is slacking or if you miss a combo block, he’ll let you know, and he’ll let you know in front of everybody.”
I do like that there’s so much brainpower and experience coming in around the offensive line. Alabama’s seemed to be flailing in direction a bit at that position ever since 2020. Grubb and the rest of the crew should be a marked improvement in offensive scheme for the Tide, which, I for one, am excited about.