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Meet Arizona’s new assistant coaches

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Get to know Kevin Sumlin’s assistants

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

The Kevin Sumlin era in Tucson has started with a whirlwind, as Sumlin has wasted no time building the Arizona Wildcats program.

His coaching staff was announced Tuesday, and here it is:

Joe Gilbert — Offensive line

Gilbert is an offensive line coach with decades of experience behind him. His last six seasons have been spent with the Indianapolis Colts under Chuck Pagano, who was recently fired.

Gilbert is a native of upstate New York, graduating from Horseheads High School in 1983. He attended Division III Hamilton and started on their offensive line for all four years. He was a DIII All-American his senior season.

Gilbert has been coaching ever since, slowly migrating south and then west. He worked as offensive line coaches and numerous small colleges in the Northeast, before becoming offensive coordinator at Maine from 1996-99.

He spent the 2000 season as head man at Mansfield High School in Pennsylvania, a few miles from his hometown. He then moved onto Toledo as an offensive line coach, then to UCF, then back to Toledo to coach tight ends.

In 2008, Gilbert spent the season with Sumlin at Houston in charge of offensive line. After a short stint at Illinois, he moved onto the Colts.

Now, Gilbert appears to be headed west with Coach Sumlin.

Clarence McKinney — Running backs

Clarence McKinney has more direct ties to Sumlin than Gilbert, having spent 10 straight seasons with UA’s head man. McKinney was the running backs coach at Texas A&M and Houston, and figures to play the same role in Tucson.

McKinney grew up in Houston, and attended Montana State for three years before transferring and graduating from the University of Mary. He earned his master’s degree from Prairie View A&M in 2002.

McKinney then spent eleven years coaching at Houston-area high schools, first assisting at Booker T. Washington, then Galena Park North Shore, and finally becoming the head man at Yates for three seasons.

After his third year at Yates HS, McKinney became Sumlin’s running backs coach and a key recruiter, and that’s where he’s been ever since.

John Rushing — Safeties

John Rushing has been coaching secondaries for over 20 years. He most recently coached under Gary Andersen and Cory Hall in Oregon State’s tumultuous 2017 campaign.

Rushing is a California native who attended Washington State. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, he slowly climbed the coaching ladder, from Division III Willamette to Boise State to Montana State, and finally to Utah State.

Rushing coached the Aggies’ defensive backfield for six years, before taking a job with the Packers, where he won a Super Bowl XLV ring. After seven years in Green Bay, he moved back west as a defensive consultant for the LA Rams in 2016, and after a year in Corvallis he’s now a member of the staff in Tucson.

Rushing’s west coast ties and years of experience will surely make him a popular addition to the staff.

Jeremy Springer — Special teams coordinator

Springer switched from Kansas’ staff to Arizona’s after Sumlin came to Tucson, and he should be helpful to the Wildcats.

Springer graduated from Los Fresnos HS in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas, before attending UTEP as a quarterback and a linebacker. He then spent three seasons as a quality control man for Texas A&M’s special teams, and the Aggies have been a solid special teams unit during his tenure.

Springer will be the special teams coordinator for the Wildcats, and while he’s very young, Arizona’s special teams is likely to improve under his watch.

Iona Uiagalelei — Defensive line

Uiagalelei will be Arizona’s defensive line coach in 2018, moving to Tucson after many years in California.

Uiagalelei has been a defensive coach at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California for 16 years. He’s perhaps most notably known for coaching Seahawks star Bruce Irvin during his stint at Mt. SAC, as well as being uncle to D.J. Uiagalelei, a highly-touted 2020 quarterback.

Uiagalelei graduated from Ganesha HS, before attending Mt. SAC and transferring to Southern Utah, where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. He received his master’s from New Mexico Highlands.

Uiagalelei has never coached anywhere but Mt. San Antonio, but his vast football knowledge and coaching history makes him a very exciting hire for the ‘Cats.

Noel Mazzone — Offensive coordinator

Mazzone is the most familiar name on the coaching staff, spending 35 years as an offensive assistant throughout the NCAA, NFL, and high school ranks.

Mazzone grew up in remote Raton, New Mexico. He attended the University of New Mexico, playing quarterback for the Lobos.

He spent 1980 and 1981 as a graduate assistant in Albuquerque, before bouncing around the west as a quarterbacks coach, spending years at Colorado State, TCU, and Minnesota.

In 1995, Mazzone joined Tommy Tuberville’s staff, spending six years as Tuberville’s offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and Auburn.

Next, Mazzone went to NC State for two seasons. He was Philip Rivers’ offensive coordinator in Raleigh. He returned to Ole Miss for a single season in 2005, and in 2006 joined Eric Mangini’s staff with the New York Jets.

After three years as recievers coach in the Meadowlands, he spent one season as offensive coordinator for Panther Creek HS in Cary, NC, near Raleigh.

Mazzone then spent two years as offensive coordinator in Tempe, before moving to UCLA and finally Texas A&M. Now, he’s set to spend his fourth straight year under Sumlin, this time in Tucson.

Mazzone is a very experienced offensive coach with ties all across the US, especially in the southwest.

Demetrice Martin — Cornerbacks

Tuesday, Martin made his Twitter profile picture the Arizona logo, so we can say he is safely in the fold.

Martin, 44, has been UCLA’s defensive backs coach since 2011. Before that he was Washington’s cornerbacks coach from 2008 to 2011.

Martin is an excellent recruiter, and at UCLA he was responsible for recruiting the Inland Empire, San Gabriel Valley, San Bernardino County, and Houston. Those all areas Arizona plans (and needs) to recruit, so Martin seems like a great fit.

Martin began his coaching career in 1999 as the head coach at Monrovia High School in California.

He then coached his alma mater, John Muir High School, for a season before coaching two years at Pasadena City College.

Martin then latched on at Mt. San Antonio Community College from 2003-05 before becoming a graduate assistant at USC from 2006-07. So clearly his ties in Southern California run deep.

Marcel Yates — Defensive coordinators/linebackers*

Yates, UA’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons, rejoins Sumlin’s staff after a previous two-year stint at Texas A&M (2012-13). He has been essential in the program’s recruiting efforts the last two seasons, notably on the defensive side of the ball, where Arizona routinely started five freshmen last season. Despite the youth, the Wildcats ranked 23rd nationally in takeaways, including tied for seventh in interceptions. Three true freshmen – Colin Schooler, Kylan Wilborn and Tony Fields II – garnered Freshman All-America honors from various outlets. Schooler was voted the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.

Taylor Mazzone — Outside receivers*

Taylor Mazzone, Noel’s son, will work in an on-field capacity after spending the last two seasons as an offensive quality control coach at Texas A&M. He previously was the quarterbacks coach at UCLA from 2013-15 where he mentored Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen. In 2012, Taylor was a graduate assistant for the Bruins. He also worked at Arizona State, where he was a quality control assistant in 2010 and graduate assistant in 2011.

Chuck Cecil — Analyst*

Cecil, who starred for the Wildcats from 1984-87, will remain a key part of the defensive staff as a senior defensive analyst. In his role, Cecil contributes to the defensive staff in areas of overall organization, scouting, film breakdown, analysis and other game preparation responsibilities. A consensus All-American in 1987, Cecil was also a three-time Academic All-American, who went on to a seven-year playing career and 15-year coaching career in the NFL.

Theron Aych — Inside receivers*

Aych returns for his second season with the Wildcats and will coach inside receivers. He will have the benefit of working with a much more experienced group in 2018, which includes returning starters Shun Brown, Shawn Poindexter, Tony Ellison and Cedric Peterson. Brown was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection last season.


*These bios are from UA’s press release