Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Former pro coach excited to be at UConn

There are some intriguing backgrounds among the newly-formed UConn coaching staff. Pretty high up on that list is defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Kevin Wolthausen.

Not only has Wolthausen worked at 10 different colleges but also has professional stops with the AFL, UFL and NFL.

In a perfect world Wolthausen’s stay in the NFL would have lasted more than just one season but like so many others before him, he found himself as little more than collateral damage when those with the power to do so decided it was time to clean house.

So while Wolthausen had a tremendous experience coaching the defensive linemen with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2007 season, he found himself looking for work when he was not part of new head coach Mike Smith’s staff.

“To me it was a great learning experience,” Wolthausen said. “I would have loved to stay in the NFL longer obviously but it is a tough business and I happened to be on a staff that got blown up internally with what happened. It is all water under the bridge now.

“You are not going to have a chance to be successful unless you surround yourself with the right kind of people. It is not always the best player either, the right kind of player who fits what you are trying to do. Obviously if you have the right kind of people and they become a great player than you have the all-pro guy so it is all about talent evaluation and I have a great appreciation for that. There are good players on every team and what is the difference between Team A and Team B? Well, how you prepare, how you practice and the type of time you spend in preparing in practice and what goes into that. What do you want to do today? Well, there is a definite plan for everything and the detail you go through in that league is very impressive with pro scouts, college scouts, if you are in it long enough there are only so many players in the league and you as a member basically get familiar with everybody.”

Wolthausen was most recently coaching at Florida International and when he had a chance to reunite with new UConn football coach Bob Diaco, who he coached alongside as part of the Eastern Michigan staff in 2002, he did not have to be asked twice.

“I said (to Diaco) ‘if this ever happens I hope I get a chance to be a part of it’ and it happened. I am excited,” said Wolthausen who will coach the defensive line and also serve as the recruiting coordinator.
“This has been great. It is always concerning when you head out to the unknown but the type of person I know Bob Diaco, the type of people he has hired, everybody is in it for the right reason so you are all in, you go 100 miles an hour to make the adjustment.”

Wolthausen has some work to do as defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, the MVP of the 2013 UConn squad, has graduated as did top defensive ends Jesse Joseph and Tim Willman. Angelo Pruitt and Julian Campenni are the most experienced defensive linemen returning. With Diaco coming from a successful stint as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame where he ran a 3-4 defense and defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter coming from a 4-3 base defensive system at Virginia, it will be interesting which is the undersized defensive ends get moved to linebacker to work with former New England Patriots star Vincent Brown and which of them stay as defensive linemen.

Regardless of who he works with, Wolthausen has no question that Diaco, a first-time head coach, has what it takes to be successful.

“There is nothing magical in this profession or in life,” Wolthausen said. “It is all about who you are, how you present yourself. What ‘that’ is, that factor of intelligence, communication ability, vision and all the things that go into being successful as a football coach, to me I think he has it. He gets the best out of the players that he has and to me he gets the best out of the people who are around him. He elevates everybody to that level. I was with him before and our time in between; it has always been a building process. To me he has done everything there is to prepare him for this moment. I like his plan to do this, I am biased I guess.”
Wolthausen does have some experience playing a game at Rentschler Field during his time with the United Football League as he was an assistant coach on the Las Vegas Locomotives squad which lost to the Hartford Colonials 27-14 on Nov. 20, 2010. Wolthausen left his gig before the league went belly up but has some unforgettable experiences in the UFL.

“From a coaching standpoint it was outstanding, from a business standpoint it was a total disaster,” Wolthausen. “The guy I worked for tried to make it as good a situation as he could, it just ended up being bad business. I got out of it.

“They (the Hartford Colonials) had a pretty good team if I remember right, they beat us.”

Another one of the new assistant coaches created a bit of stir when the new staff members met with the media last week as running backs coach and player engagement director Ernest Jones was quoted as saying "Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle."

After receiving complaints about the comments, UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement: “At public universities we value everyone in our community, and treat each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of who they are, what their background is, or what their beliefs may be. Every student, including student-athletes, must know they are accepted and welcomed at UConn. Always. Our staff should educate and guide students, to ensure they are well-prepared for life at UConn and beyond.  But it should go without saying that our employees cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work at the university, or in their interactions with our students.  This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field.   Our Athletic Director and Coach Diaco agree wholeheartedly with me, and have made this clear to their staff.”


Blogger Craig Sides said...

Congratulations Kevin, this is Country Craig Sides your former teammate at Humboldt State. CountryCraig@gmail.com. My Nephew may be a good prospect for you, his name is Cole Klayman at Notre Dame in Woodland Hills, California. Let me know if you received this and I can have film forwarded to you.

September 22, 2015 9:54 PM 

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