Monday, January 16, 2017

Grimes, Smith, Klein latest additions to UConn staff

It could be argued that there may not be more crucial hires for Randy Edsall to make than the offensive line and strength/conditioning coaches.

Well, UConn announced that veteran offensive line coach J.B. Grimes and former Minnesota strength coach Eric Klein have been hired to fill those spots. Also, Aaron Smith has been hired to coach the receivers.

News of Grimes' hiring broke yesterday as the former Auburn offensive line coach who spent the 2016 season on the staff at Cincinnati will be reunited with Rhett Lashlee, who left Auburn to become UConn's offensive coordinator.

The 62-year-old Grimes has worked at 12 different schools and been on the staff of 19 bowl teams. He was signed to a one-year contract with a base salary of $250,000. He'll have his work cut out for him as UConn is the only FBS program to rank 100th or lower in total offense in each of the last six seasons with many of the offensive struggles being traced to issues with the offensive line.

Smith, a former receiver at UConn and 2006 UConn graduate, comes back to his alma mater after spending the last four seasons as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Albany.
Smith signed a one-year deal for a base salary of $145,000. He is the second UConn graduate and former player hired by Edsall joining linebackers coach Jon Wholley.

UConn has a young group of receivers following the departure of record-breaking Noel Thomas as well as four-year contributor Brian Lemelle. Hergy Mayala had 23 receptions as a sophomore, the second most among receivers while fellow sophomore Tyraiq Beals and Aaron McLean have 31 and 6 career receptions respectively. Quayvon Skanes and Keyion Dixon are a pair of freshmen who were held in high regard by the previous coaching staff.

Klein, 45, served as the Director of Football Strength and Conditioning at the University of Minnesota and also worked in the same role at South Illinois and Northern Illinois.

Klein has a two-year contract and will be paid a base salary of $220,000.

There should be some familiarity with all three hires. Grimes not only worked with Lashlee but when UConn AD David Benedict was at Auburn when both Grimes and Lashlee were on the football story. Edsall coached Smith at UConn while UConn's sport administrator for football Beth Goetz was at Minnesota when Klein was working there.

There's still a position left to fill. I would think it is as the special teams coach since Crocker could certainly coach the defensive line but obviously more will be known when the final coach is officially announced.

Here's a look at UConn's coaching staff

Position                                       Coach                    Last Stop
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Rhett Lashlee Auburn   
Running backs: Terry Richardson                            Maryland (2015)
Receivers: Aaron Smith                                           Albany
Tight ends: Corey Edsall                                         Colorado
Offensive line: J.B. Grimes                                     Cincinnati

Defensive coordinator: Billy Crocker                       Villanova
Linebackers: Jon Wholley                                       Fordham
Defensive backs: Curome Cox                               Coastal Carolina

Former UConn quarterback Garrett Anderson completed 5 of 11 passes for 78 yards including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jason Croom to help the National team beat the American squad 28-14 in the Tropical Bowl on Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Jhavon Williams also played for the winning National team. The cornerback had one tackle and while he wasn't credited with a pass breakup, I did hear that he helped create an interception with his play on the ball.


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