MCGILL: @HerdFB Staff Additions Shake Up Coaching Roles
The Word on the Herd -- March 1, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Doc Holliday is shaking up his coaching staff, which includes the official announcement of two additions and four others who will adjust their job titles.
First, the additions. Wednesday was the first day of work for new defensive ends coach Cornell Brown and new receivers coach Aubrey Hill. These two assistants share commonalities: college greats at powerhouse programs; assistants at power conference schools; and coaches with recruiting ties in talent-rich states.
“They were tremendous players who developed into well-known and respected coaches and recruiters,” Holliday said. “They have played at the highest level and coached at the highest level. They will fit perfectly into what we wanted to do in reshaping our coaching staff.”
Four assistants already on board will have their roles modified. Todd Goebbel, who was the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator last season, is the new quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. Bill Legg, the QB coach last season, will coach the tight ends and retain his offensive coordinator title. Adam Fuller, the associate head coach and linebackers coach last season, will add to that the title of special teams coordinator. Dave Dunn, who was the tight ends coach, will be the recruiting coordinator and a defensive analyst.
Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater, running backs coach Pepe Pearson, offensive line coach Alex Mirabal and defensive tackles coach J.C. Price will stay in their roles.
Now back to the newcomers.
Brown, 41, was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Norfolk State in 2016, but college football fans may remember him as one of the greatest defensive players in Virginia Tech history. Brown starred along the defensive line for the Hokies from 1993-96, becoming the program’s first junior to receive consensus All-American recognition.
He had his jersey retired in 2002, joined the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. A sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, Brown played seven years in the National Football League, logging 108 games (25 starts) and winning a Super Bowl ring.
Brown returned to Virginia Tech, first as a graduate assistant and later as an outside linebackers and assistant defensive line coach for defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Brown coached five seasons under legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer (2011-2015).
“In all my years of coaching I think sometimes the great players weren’t great coaches because it came easy to them,” Beamer told HerdZone.com. “The guys who were really good coaches were the guys who had to work at it and study at it and make sure every step is right.
“Cornell Brown is unusual because he was a great player – a really talented player – and the top recruit in our state when he came here, and then he comes back as a coach and he is a super teacher who has great relationships with the kids. He has this way about him that draws those people to him. To me, he is the total package, and he is unusual in the fact that he was such a great player who, I think, is a terrific coach.”
Hill, 45, is a Miami native who starred collegiately at the University of Florida – where he caught 86 passes and scored 18 touchdowns – before embarking on a coaching career that has taken him from Duke to Pittsburgh to Miami to Florida.
Dave Wannstedt, a veteran NFL coach who became the coach at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, made Hill a priority when building his college staff.
“When I first got the Pitt job coming from the Miami Dolphins, Aubrey was one of the first guys I interviewed,” Wannstedt told HerdZone.com. “I offered him the job on the spot. Usually you do the interview and take the information back and make a decision, but I had heard so many good things about him from the people at Florida, about his coaching ability, about his concern for the players, about his ability to communicate and recruit and his background as a player.
“The guy is a winner. I hired him on the spot and he did a fantastic job. He was everything I would hope for from the standpoint of a coach on the field and off the field, and every year Aubrey was with me his reputation as an outstanding coach grew. It spoke for itself.”
Hill then return to his home state, where Doc Holliday has long had recruiting ties.
“I’ve known Doc Holliday for a long time,” Hill said. “He’s had some great teams here and he brings that family atmosphere to the football program. He’s had a lot of great coaches that he’s been around and he’s learned a lot and put his own plan together.”
Last season, Hill coached Miami’s Carol City High School to the Class 6A state championship. In January, he was named a finalist for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award, which is given to the nation’s top high school football coach.
Hill has been at power conference schools and said he appreciates the Thundering Herd’s history of producing elite talent, especially at his position.
“I’ve always heard about Marshall and the great players here going back to Chad Pennington and Randy Moss,” Hill said. “Eric Kresser was a quarterback when I was at Florida and then he transferred here. You walk through the halls and it speaks for itself, the great players who have been here.”
A connection helped put Brown on Holliday’s radar, too. Price was third team All-American defensive tackle at Virginia Tech, where he played alongside Brown.
“I’m super excited about the opportunity to come to a program like Marshall and be part of this,” Brown said. “I get to join my teammate again and we can raise a little Cain, this time we get to do it from a coaching standpoint. It will be like being in the meeting room again at Virginia Tech. That’s a good time with a lot of camaraderie. It’s exciting to get to be here with my brother again.”
The new staff will hit the field together when spring football drills commence Tuesday, March 28, for five weeks of practice. The spring scrimmage will take place Saturday, April 22 at 3 p.m.
Marshall opens the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, against old Mid-American Conference opponent Miami University.