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March 13, 2007
The 2006 season turned into a year to remember for black assistant football coaches.
Florida co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong helped lead the defensive-minded Gators to a national championship.
Michigan's Ron English was named the Rivals.com national defensive coordinator of the year.
Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips helped the Wildcats put together the Southeastern Conference's most prolific passing attack.
The list of talented black assistant coaches grows longer each year, yet the list of Division I-A black head coaches remains only six deep: Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, UCLA's Karl Dorrell, Buffalo's Turner Gill, Kansas State's Ron Prince, Miami's Randy Shannon and Washington's Tyrone Willingham.
Which assistant coach will become the next Prince or Shannon?
We put together an alphabetical list of 25 black college assistant coaches who eventually could emerge as head coaching candidates. We restricted this list to assistant coaches who were on college staffs in 2006.
On the Horizon: Head coaches of the future?
John Blake, North Carolina defensive line coach: Although he posted a 12-22 record in three years as Oklahoma's head coach from 1997-98, Blake's recent work as an assistant could help him receive a second chance. Rivals.com named Blake one of the nation's top 25 recruiters in 2005 and 2006, when he was working on Nebraska's staff.
Burton Burns, Alabama running backs coach: He joined Nick Saban's staff at Alabama after spending the past eight seasons at Clemson, where he coached James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
Ron English, Michigan defensive coordinator: The 2006 Rivals.com defensive coordinator of the year was the architect of the nation's top-ranked run defense last season. Rivals.com selected him this year as one of the nation's top 25 recruiters.
James Franklin, Kansas State offensive coordinator: He helped Kansas State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman improve tremendously in the second half of the 2006 season. Franklin also has NFL experience as the former Green Bay Packers wide receivers coach.
Rodney Garner, Georgia defensive line coach: Rivals.com listed Garner as the nation's fourth-ranked recruiter in 2006. He also has coached four first-round draft picks (Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud, Charles Grant and Johnathan Sullivan) in the last five years.
Odell Haggins, Florida State defensive tackles coach: His former pupils include first-round draft picks Brodrick Bunkley, Travis Johnson and Corey Simon.
Michael Haywood, Notre Dame offensive coordinator: The American Football Coaches Association named Haywood the Division I-A assistant coach of the year in 2005. Haywood specializes in mentoring running backs and has tutored Kevin Faulk, Cedric Benson and Darius Walker during his stints at Louisiana State, Texas and now Notre Dame.
Darrell Hazell, Ohio State wide receivers coach: He has spent the past three seasons coaching one of the most star-studded units in all of college football. His pupils have included 2006 first-round draft pick Santonio Holmes, potential 2007 first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall.
Larry Johnson, Penn State defensive line coach: Rivals.com named Johnson the national recruiter of the year in 2006. Johnson has mentored No. 1 overall draft pick Courtney Brown and first-round draft pick Tamba Hali among others since coming to Penn State in 1996. He won three Maryland state titles and posted a 139-36 record as head coach at McDonough High School in Pomfret, Md., from 1975-91.
Bobby Kennedy, Texas wide receivers coach: Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman have shown plenty of progress while learning from Kennedy, a 17-year college assistant entering his fourth year at Texas. Rivals.com named him one of the nation's top 25 recruiters in 2005.
Mike Locksley, Illinois offensive coordinator: Rivals.com has named Locksley one of the nation's top 25 recruiters for three of the last four years. If Illinois can translate some of its recent recruiting victories to success on the field, Locksley soon could become a very attractive candidate.
Mike London, Virginia defensive coordinator: Don't blame London for Virginia's struggles last year. The Cavaliers recorded two shutouts last season and allowed seven or fewer points in three of their last five games. Rivals.com named London one of the nation's top 25 recruiters this year.
Calvin Magee, West Virginia offensive coordinator: The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end has helped give West Virginia one of the nation's most productive rushing attacks.
Todd McNair, Southern California running backs coach: Rivals.com named McNair the nation's No. 3 recruiter in 2006. He made the top 25 again this year. The former NFL running back has coached Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and second-round draft pick LenDale White during his three-year tenure at USC.
Tyrone Nix, South Carolina defensive coordinator: The former Southern Mississippi defensive coordinator was a 2003 finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the nation's top assistant coach. The 34-year-old Nix already is entering his seventh season as a defensive coordinator.
Ken Norton Jr., Southern California linebackers coach: Norton certainly has the name recognition as the only person ever to play on three consecutive Super Bowl-winning teams (the 1992 and 1993 Dallas Cowboys and 1994 San Francisco 49ers). He will spend this season working with arguably the nation's most talented linebacking corps.
Jay Norvell, UCLA offensive coordinator: The former Oakland Raiders tight ends coach arrives at UCLA this season after spending the last three years helping Nebraska move from a run-oriented attack to the West Coast offense. The Cornhuskers ranked in the top 25 in rushing offense and passing offense last season.
Joker Phillips, Kentucky offensive coordinator: Kentucky emerged as one of the surprise stories of the 2006 season in part because it led the Southeastern Conference in passing offense. Phillips also can bring in talent. Rivals.com named him one of the nation's top 25 recruiters in 2006.
Anthony Poindexter, Virginia running backs coach: One of the greatest safeties in Virginia history now is rapidly moving up the ladder on the Cavaliers' coaching staff. He has spent the last three seasons as Virginia's running backs coach and also served as the Cavaliers' special teams coordinator last year.
Larry Porter, Louisiana State running backs coach: Rivals.com named him the national recruiter of the year last month after he helped bring five-star prospects Terrance Toliver and Chad Jones to Baton Rouge. Porter mentored first-round draft pick Joseph Addai at LSU and coached a 1,000-yard rusher each of his three years on Oklahoma State's staff.
Charlie Strong, Florida co-defensive coordinator: All he needs to bring to an interview is a tape of last season's BCS championship game. Florida held Ohio State to 91 total yards in a 41-14 shellacking. Strong also played a key role in helping Florida land the nation's top recruiting class this year. Rivals.com listed him as one of the nation's top 25 recruiters.
Kevin Sumlin, Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator: The former Purdue linebacker worked as a receivers coach at his alma mater and briefly served as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator before coming to Oklahoma as tight ends coach. He specializes in coaching receivers and helped Malcolm Kelly deliver a banner season last fall.
Trooper Taylor, Tennessee wide receivers coach: Robert Meachem put together one of the finest seasons of any receiver in Tennessee history last fall during Taylor's first year as the Volunteers' receiving coach. He also had two successful seasons as Tennessee's running backs coach and has been named one of the nation's top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com two of the last three years.
DeWayne Walker, UCLA defensive coordinator: A UCLA defense that struggled throughout 2005 ranked sixth in the nation in sacks and ninth at stopping the run last year in Walker's first season as coordinator.
Tim Walton, Miami defensive coordinator: The former Miami defensive backs coach has been promoted to coordinator on Randy Shannon's new staff. His secondary helped Miami lead the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense in 2005. Walton's former players include first-round draft picks Antrel Rolle and Kelly Jennings.
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