The Arizona Wildcats have made official the hirings of Jimmie Dougherty, Scottie Graham, Jordan Paopao and Kevin Cummings.
Dougherty will coach the quarterbacks and direct the passing game for new head coach Jedd Fisch, Graham is in charge of the running backs, Paopao will handle the tight ends and Cummings will coach the wide receivers.
This comes after the Wildcats added Chuck Cecil (defensive backs), Ricky Hunley (defensive line) and Brennan Carroll to the staff last week.
Here's a look at each of the four new coaches:
A former Missouri quarterback, Dougherty had been at UCLA since 2017 when he was the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator under Fisch, then the Bruins’ offensive coordinator. He was retained by current UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, and in 2020 oversaw a passing game that threw 18 touchdowns in 200 attempts and averaged 7.9 yards per throw.
Arizona, in comparison, averaged 5.6 yards per pass attempt this past season, with on six TDs in 189 throws.
Dougherty, who was also on the 2016 Michigan staff with Fisch and before that worked at San Jose State, Washington, San Diego and Illinois Wesleyan, is credited with helping to develop UCLA receivers Theo Howard, Jordan Lasley and Kyle Philips, with Philips making 98 catches for 1,058 yards and seven TDs the past two seasons.
Fisch’s statement: “Jimmie and I have worked together at three different institutions, and he has always been a critical part of the offensive success that we have had. He is a tremendous person, teacher, coach, and mentor. Jimmie has always found ways to get the very best out of his players. As a former quarterback, coordinator and wide receivers coach, his experience and expertise will be critical to our success. I am thrilled to welcome Coach Dougherty and his family to Tucson.”
Dougherty’s statement: “My family and I are excited to be joining the Wildcat Family. I am thrilled to reunite with Coach Fisch and be a part of building this program back to excellence. I believe that the University of Arizona has everything to compete and win championships on the football field. I have tremendous belief in the type of culture Coach Fisch is going to build, which is one that values hard work, toughness and creating a true family atmosphere. I know it’s one that Tucson and all of the Wildcat Family is going to be extremely proud of. Bear Down!”
A former NFL running back, Graham played seven seasons in the pros after a college run at Ohio State.
This will be the first college coaching gig for Graham, 51, who since 2014 has been a senior associate athletic director at ASU. Prior to that he worked the NFL Players Association as the Director of Player Engagement.
Graham played for Ohio State from 1988-91, rushing for 1,768 yards and scoring 20 total touchdowns. He was a seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992 but never played for that franchise, instead spending time with the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikins and Cincinnati Bengals from 1992-97. He ran for 1,267 yards in 57 career games, topping the 100-yard mark three times for Minnesota in 1993.
Fisch’s statement: “After I was hired as head coach of our program, I had numerous coaches who I respect and admire reached out to me about Scottie. Coach Graham played at the highest level for a long time, as a running back in the National Football League. He also worked for the NFL Players Association in key positions. His mentorship and his ability to help our student-athletes achieve their goals to become professionals, both on and off the field, is a critical part to bringing him on staff. I am so excited to welcome Coach Graham and his family to Tucson!”
Graham’s statement: “A tremendous coaching opportunity has presented itself and I am excited to be a part of the building process at the University of Arizona. I want to thank Ray Anderson, Dr. Michael Crow and everyone at Arizona State for a fantastic experience. I want to also thank Coach Fisch for offering me a chance to coach on the field, recruit and be a part of the Wildcat Family. I look forward to using my experience to coach and develop the young men in the program, on and off the field, while helping them achieve their goals and dreams.”
A good sign that the tight ends will be an integral part of Arizona's offense under Fisch? There will be a coach specifically dedicated to that position.
Paopao comes to the UA from UNLV, where this past season he was tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for first-year head coach Marcus Arroyo. Before that he coached tight ends from 2013-19 at Washington, where he had been a graduate assistant for two years.
At Washington, Paopao’s tight ends were a regular part of the offense. During his tenure he worked with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014, as well as Will Dissly (4th round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2018) and Drew Sample (2nd round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019).
Fisch used pictures of Dissly and Sample to hint at Paopao’s hiring on Twitter on Sunday night.
What does Will Dissly and Drew Sample have in common (the correct answer is not that there both starting TEs in the NFL)? pic.twitter.com/VOUTSAddHW— Jedd Fisch (@CoachJeddFisch) January 4, 2021
This marks the first time the Wildcats have had a tight ends coach on their staff since 2017. Under Kevin Sumlin tight ends were lumped in with slot receivers and overseen by Theron Aych, whose official title was inside receivers coach.
Arizona’s tight ends caught only six passes for 28 yards in 2020, and in Sumlin’s three-year tenure the position produced only 20 catches and one touchdown.
Paopao also has a strong reputation as a recruiter while at Washington, serving as the point man for several key prospects including defensive back Byron Murphy, who was a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.
Fisch’s statement: “Jordan is well known as one of the top tight end coaches in the country, and we are fortunate to have him joining our program. Jordan has been an unbelievable developer of talent and will help us produce more NFL tight ends, hopefully similar to the one who is currently playing for the Buccaneers. Bringing Coach Paopao back down the west coast, close to his alma mater and hometown, is going to be critical to our success. As we build our offense and incorporate the tight end, Coach Paopao will be integral. I can’t wait to get started and have Coach Paopao and his family a part of our Wildcat community.
Paopao’s statement: “I am humbled, honored and excited to be a part of the University of Arizona. I am very grateful for the incredible opportunity given to me by Coach Fisch to join this staff. It is a perfect time to join this football program and help restore it back to prominence. My family and I can’t wait to arrive in Tucson, join the Wildcat Family and Bear Down!”
Cummings joins Arizona after spending the last four seasons as San Jose State’s wide receivers coach. In doing so, the Wildcats add an up-and-coming assistant who could help them land a notable transfer.
A former wide receiver at Oregon State, Cummings was a quality control coach at his alma mater from 2014-16 before joining Brent Brennan’s staff at San Jose. In September the 29-year-old was recognized by 247Sports as part of its “30 Under 30” list of rising coaches.
This is what writer Chris Hummer had to say about Cummings:
Few position groups have seen more growth over the last few seasons than San Jose State’s wide receivers. The Spartans ranked 87th nationally in passing yards per game in 2017 when Cummings took over the position group. Last year, San Jose State finished fourth nationally with a pair of all-conference wide receivers helping to lead the way. That group included Tre Walker, who caught 79 passes for 1,161 yards. He’s a potential draft pick in 2021.
Speaking of Walker, the senior announced Sunday he was entering the NCAA transfer portal after a 2020 season in which he had 45 catches for 627 yards and four TDs in eight games, making seven receptions for 81 yards in the Arizona Bowl on Dec. 31.
Arizona just so happens to have a major need at receiver with five wideouts leaving the program in December.
Fisch’s statement: “When we started our search for a wide receiver coach, we were looking for a great developer of talent, a great fundamental coach, a relationship builder, and someone who has been productive wherever he has been. KC is that guy! Coach Cummings played in the Pac-12, coached in the Pac-12, and is now back in the PAC-12. He has made a positive impact on every program he has been with, and clearly knows how to develop and coach receivers in all systems. We are very fortunate to welcome Coach Cummings and his family to Tucson and very happy to say he is a part of our Wildcat community.”
Cummings’ statement: “I am excited to join Coach Fisch and his outstanding staff and get to Tucson to begin building a football program with a championship culture,” Cummings said. “I look forward to helping develop great student-athletes who excel on the field, in the classroom and in the community as we work relentlessly to compete at the highest level. Bear Down!”