ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Is DeAndre Smith making his return as the New Mexico Lobos’ running backs coach? It appears so.
An Internet report to that effect vanished on Monday as quickly as it materialized, casting some doubt on rumors that Smith, who worked for then-Lobos head coach Rocky Long in 2008, had joined the staff of new coach Bob Davie.
Then, on Tuesday, Smith in the flesh was sighted at the UNM athletic complex.
Davie, who was hired to succeed Mike Locksley on Nov. 17, has said he won’t comment on the hiring of assistant coaches until his entire staff is in place.
But, if Smith is Davie’s running backs coach, the offensive staff is almost complete.
The defensive staff, not so much.
The following hirings have been confirmed:
n Bob DeBesse, offensive coordinator. DeBesse has served in the same capacity the past two years at Sam Houston State. He’ll coach the unbeaten (14-0) Bearkats in Saturday’s NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title game before heading for Albuquerque.
n Derek Warehime. Sam Houston State’s offensive line coach is expected to work with tight ends at UNM. Like DeBesse, he’ll coach the Bearkats on Saturday.
n Jason Lenzmeier, offensive line. The former Lobos offensive tackle was Long’s offensive line coach at UNM in 2007-08, then held the same position at New Mexico State the past three seasons.
n Taylor Stubblefield, wide receivers. A record-setting wide receiver at Purdue as a player, he coached wideouts at Central Michigan last season.
n Coleman Hutzler. A former assistant at the University of San Diego, Stanford and most recently at Florida, he’s expected to coach linebackers at New Mexico.
The hirings of DeBesse, Warehime, Lenzmeier and Hutzler have been confirmed by coaches or media-relations spokesmen at their previous schools.
Stubblefield’s hiring at UNM has been reported by several online sources. On Tuesday, a Central Michigan athletics spokesman confirmed Stubblefield is no longer employed by CMU.
Davie still needs a defensive coordinator, a quarterbacks coach, a defensive line coach, a defensive backs coach, possibly a special-teams coach and probably a couple of graduate assistants. A defensive coordinator conceivably could double as a position coach.
Staffs vary in size, depending on budget and on the head coach’s preferences.
According to information released by UNM, Davie has $1.2 million available this year for assistant coaches. He also has $90,000 for a strength-and-conditioning coach and $80,000 for a director of football operations. It’s believed he already has filled those two positions.
The well-traveled Smith has worked at six schools since beginning his college coaching career in 1999.
In 2008, Long hired him to New Mexico. After Long unexpectedly resigned after the ’08 season, Smith worked at UNLV for a year before signing on with Illinois. His two-year stint at Illinois ended this season when head coach Ron Zook was fired. His last game with Illinois was Saturday, when the Illini beat UCLA 20-13 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Several running backs have put up big numbers under Smith’s tutelage: Thomas Hammock (1,096 yards in a season); current Atlanta Falcon Michael Turner (1,915) and Garrett Wolfe (1,656) at Northern Illinois; Brandon Murphy (1,070) at Miami of Ohio; Rodney Ferguson (1,105) at UNM; and Mikel Leshoure (1,697) at Illinois.
As a player, Smith was a consensus All-America NCAA Division I-AA quarterback at Missouri State. — This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal