One month after bringing in 10 new players on signing day, Southern football coach Dawson Odums brought in a big haul of assistant coaches.
Odums said Tuesday the Jaguars will have five new coaches on staff — four on offense — including a new coordinator for the first time in nine seasons.
“We’ve got a good mixture of guys,” said Odums, going into his ninth season. “They understand we have one vision and how to make that vision work. We’re going to put it together. I told them the expectations don’t change at Southern.”
Zach Grossi, who has NFL experience, takes over as offensive coordinator for Chennis Berry, who served the past eight seasons. Berry, who also coached offensive line, left Southern in January to become head coach at Benedict College. Grossi will also coach quarterbacks, replacing Matt Leone, who left for the offensive coordinator job at North Carolina Central.
Also coming in are wide receivers coach Vincent Marshall, offensive line coach Brian Lepak, tight ends coach Chris Browne and safeties coach Jason Rollins.
Grossi was quarterbacks coach at Hampton last season after five years in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization as a scout, assistant to head coach Dirk Koetter and two years as offensive quality control assistant.
“He’s got a bright mind, bright ideas and he’s energetic,” Odums said of Grossi. “There won’t be a whole lot of changes but we’re going to be more effective and efficient. There’s no need to script everything. He’s looked at what we’ve done and we’ll marry what he knows to what we’ve done.”
Odums is hoping Grossi can get consistency from the quarterback position, where LaDarius Skelton has had an up-and-down career. All four Southern quarterbacks are scheduled to return.
“He’s coached at the highest level,” Odums said. “He’s going to put his fingerprints on it, pull some stuff out, add some stuff to it. We’re going to be more efficient understanding where we’re going with the football. Getting other people in the easier throw involved, get a higher completion percentage by designing it to fit the strengths of the quarterback.”
Lepak is a former Oklahoma (2008-10) and Colorado State (2006-07) offensive lineman who played all five positions along the line. He spent the past three years as a graduate assistant on the Indiana University staff. He earned his law degree from Oklahoma in 2014 and is member of the Oklahoma Bar Association.
“He's very intelligent,” Odums said. “He understands the running game and passing game and is a good teacher. To be a great O-line coach, you have to be a great teacher. He knows the running game inside out. He coached at Indiana under Kevin Wilson who is one of the great offensive minds.”
Browne, who replaces Macander Dieudonne, was out of coaching last season but has made stops at Louisiana Tech and Morehouse College. He will be working in tandem with Lepak to coordinate the two positions.
“He was playing offensive tackle when I first got here,” Odums said. “I like having two O-line guys on the staff. They will work together and learn from each other. It’s good to have him back.”
Marshall was offensive quality control coach at Syracuse last season after two years as grad assistant at Bowling Green under Dino Babers. He played at University of Houston, and in the NFL and CFL. He replaces Chris Coleman.
“I knew him through some friends in the business,” Odums said. “He was great in the interview. He’s going to bring a different demeanor, a guy who can teach in various ways. Has an education degree. He can teach the skill set. He had some NFL experience. He’s a mentor and he’s coached in high school.”
Rollins, who coached with Southern defensive coordinator Lionel Washington at Tulane, spent the past two years at Texas-San Antonio as defensive coordinator/safeties coach, and was also associate head coach under Frank Wilson. He coached linebackers his first two seasons at UTSA.
Rollins coached nine seasons at Tulane as secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator. Before that, he was co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach (2006-07) at his alma mater McNeese State. He also coached defensive backs coach at Northwestern State (2002-04).
“Everybody says great things about him,” Odums said. “He’s got a great understanding and demeanor. He’s a Louisiana guy.”