There are still a few holes left to fill, but a week after formally being introduced as Arizona’s new head coach Brent Brennan has most of his coaching staff.
The school announced 10 hires on Wednesday, including Duane Akina’s promotion to defensive coordinator and the addition of six position coaches. Also in the group of announcements was Brennan’s Chief of Staff, the first new analyst position and an assistant strength coach.
Here’s the full list of hires, one of which was announced Tuesday:
- Defensive coordinator Duane Akina
- Assistant head coach/running backs coach Alonzo Carter
- Wide receivers coach Bobby Wade
- Tight ends coach/passing game coordinator Matt Adkins
- Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Josh Oglesby
- Defensive line coach Joe Seumalo
- STARs coach Brett Arce
- Offensive analyst Lyle Moevao
- Strength and conditioning coach Cullen Carroll
- Assistant strength coach James Perez
- Chief of Staff Ben Thienes
Carter, Adkins, Oglesby, Seumalo, Moevao, Carroll, Perez and Thienes were all part of Brennan’s staff at San Jose State, while Akina and Arce were with Arizona in 2023. Wade is the only “outside” hire to this point, coming down from ASU where he’d been an offensive analyst the previous two years.
Akina will be running a defense for the first time since 2007, the last of three seasons he was Texas’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. He was Arizona’s offensive coordinator from 2002-05 under Dick Tomey, part of a 14-year run with the program, and when he came back to Tucson last year it began as an analyst before getting elevated to secondary coach for the regular season.
Arce, an analyst at UA the previous three years working with nickel corners and safeties, will be coaching a new position for the defense. A ‘STAR’ is typically a hybrid linebacker/defensive back, similar to the ‘Viper’ from Don Brown’s scheme, and is typically found in a 4-2-5 alignment.
Arizona ran a 4-2-5 under Johnny Nansen, with a nickelback as the fifth DB, though quite often the Wildcats would play up to seven defensive backs in a ‘dollar’ package with three down linemen and one linebacker.
Among the staff coming over from San Jose, Seumalo is the father of former Oregon State offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo, who has a third round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 who has 77 games in eight NFL seasons, while Moevao played QB at OSU from 2006-09.
Oh, and Carter has a notable pre-football career:
In case you didn't know, Alonzo Carter was a backup dancer for MC Hammer in college! https://t.co/e3HS9KbA3Z— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) January 24, 2024
ositions still not officially filled are offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and position coaches for quarterbacks, linebackers and defensive backs. Arizona has three full-time slots left for those, meaning multiple hires figure to handle double duty.
One of them is reportedly Danny Gonzales, who according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel is coming on as special teams coordinator and LBs coach. Gonzales was head coach at New Mexico, Arizona’s opening opponent next season, from 2020-23 and also defensive coordinator at ASU and San Diego State.
Whoever gets the OC job presumably could also coach the QBs, leaving the secondary. Akina may also be involved in that area along with his coordinator duties.
No word yet on the status of defensive assistants Chuck Cecil and Ricky Hunley. Cecil coached safeties in 2023 and Hunley handled the defensive line during the spring and summer before moving to an off-field role in the fall.