Although it wasn't ultimately the most shocking news in the world of college football on Wednesday, the fact that Texas Longhorns defensive line coach Bo Davis left for the LSU Tigers, the school he previously played and coached at, was certainly labeled as a blow. Great for the head coach. Steve Sarkisian's crew.
Davis is known as one of the best developers of defensive linemen in the country and as a solid recruiter, but if there's an area where replacing Davis could represent an upgrade, it's in recruiting after Davis has struggled to get elite players at his position since returning to Austin three years ago.
Several former Texans players are potential candidates, but perhaps the most interesting coach that could be available is one of Sarkisian's former teammates in Tuscaloosa following the shock retirement of head coach Nick Saban on Wednesday.
Here's a look at four potential candidates.
Toledo DL coach Frank Occam
After a three-year starter at Texas, Occam broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2014 after a six-year NFL career. After spending two years as the defensive line coach at Rice, Occam joined Matt Rhule's staff in Waco, eventually following Rhule to the NFL and coaching with the Carolina Panthers. Last year, Occam served as the defensive line coach for the Las Vegas Raiders before spending the 2023 season in Toledo.
NFL experience certainly makes Okam an interesting candidate and he's an emotional pick since he played at Texas, but the concern is that he doesn't have a proven track record as a high-level recruiter.
Houston Texans DL assistant coach Roderick Wright
Like Okam, Wright was a standout for the Longhorns who played on the national championship team in 2005 before his NFL career was cut short by injuries. Under former coach Mack Brown, Wright spent four years as a student assistant and special defensive assistant, then joined Sam Houston State's coaching staff. Since Wright spent a season at East Carolina, he joined Frank Wilson's staff at UTSA, eventually remaining in San Antonio when Jeff Traylor took over and became co-defensive coordinator in 2021. Mario Cristobal hired Wright to coach defensive ends the following year before Wright. He got his first job in the NFL as an assistant defensive line coach under DeMeco Ryans with the Houston Texans.
As a coach, Wright has an impressive track record of success, having helped PJ Hall set an FCS record with 84 tackles for loss in his career at Sam Houston State and tutoring AAC Defensive Player of the Year Nate Harvey at East Carolina. In Wright's single season at Miami, he served as the primary recruiter for three four-star defensive linemen, an indication of his upside in that area.
Wyoming AHC Oscar Giles
Giles was a standout defensive lineman for the Longhorns in the late 1980s, served as a graduate assistant at Texas in 1999, and returned to Austin to coach the Browns from 2005-13 after stints at Houston and SMU. Before Tom Herman brought Giles with him from Houston to Texas, Giles spent a year at Louisiana Tech University. Following Herman's firing, Giles joined Craig Buhl's staff at Wyoming in 2022, earning a promotion to associate head coach last year.
Giles has a long history of developing defensive linemen for the Longhorns, including Okam and Wright, along with Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, Sam Acho and Jackson Jeffcoat. For the Cowboys, Giles is recruiting from Central Texas and Fort Worth. During his career at Texas, Giles was credited as the primary recruiter for four consensus five-star prospects, including Jevocaat, Malcolm Brown, Eddie Jones, and Jataveon Sanders. In Houston, Giles helped Herman and his staff land five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the only consensus five-star prospect to ever sign with the Cougars.
Alabama DL coach Freddie Roach
Saban's retirement could enable Roach to play for the Texans, as Sarkisian spent a year working with Roach before taking the job in Austin. Roach, 40, is a rising assistant who spent time as an assistant at Murray State, South Alabama and Ole Miss in addition to holding several roles at Alabama, including assistant strength and conditioning coach and director of player development. .
What makes Roach particularly interesting is his ability as an elite recruiter. Since 2020, Roach has served as the primary recruiter for three consensus five-star prospects and the secondary recruiter for another three five-star prospects. Overall, the Crimson helped the Tide land 14 of their top 100 recruits.
The question is whether Roach is willing to leave his alma mater, especially since Alabama's next coach will likely try to retain someone who can recruit like Roach.
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