LSU Football Loses Elite Recruiter To Florida, But Brian Kelly Hires One Of His Notre Dame Assistants

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BATON ROUGE — New LSU football coach Brian Kelly will be bringing some of Notre Dame with him after all.

Kelly first missed on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who initially agreed to come to LSU but then replaced Kelly as the Irish head coach. Then Kelly saw other Notre Dame assistants, such as offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn, remain in South Bend, Indiana, before he landed Notre Dame special teams coordinator and associate head coach Brian Polian on Wednesday.

“Brian Polian brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our staff,” Kelly said. “He is a relentless recruiter whose special teams routinely rank at the top of the country.”

Polian, 46, is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former NFL executive Bill Polian and has coached Notre Dame special teams from 2005-09 and from 2017-21. His punt and kickoff coverage units were ranked in the top 20 in 2019 and ’20. Pro Football Focus ranked Notre Dame’s special teams No. 3 in the nation in 2019. He replaces special teams coordinator Greg McMahon, who had been in that position since 2017.

“I share Coach Kelly’s vision for sustained excellence for LSU football and his belief in our ability to compete for championships every year,” said Polian, who was Nevada’s head coach from 2013-16. “I am eager to do my part in realizing that vision for this program. My family and I are excited to begin this new adventure.”

Kelly may soon be hiring another former Notre Dame assistant coach — defensive back coach Kerry Cooks, who coached cornerbacks under Kelly from 2010-14 at Notre Dame and was co-defensive coordinator from 2012-14. Cooks, 47, was Oklahoma’s secondary coach from 2015-18 and Texas Tech’s safeties coach in 2019 before returning to South Bend as a defensive analyst in 2020 and ’21.

Cooks would replace Corey Raymond in the secondary and coach either cornerbacks or safeties or both. Raymond, who has been one of LSU’s best recruiters since 2012 and its recruiting coordinator since 2020, is expected to be hired by new Florida coach Billy Napier, formerly the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Raymond, 42, is expected to coach cornerbacks and recruit and have an assistant or associate head coach title with the Gators.

Florida needs a boost in recruiting from Raymond. The Gators’ class of 2022 is ranked No. 79 in the nation by with only seven commitments. LSU is No. 31 with 11. Both of those schools have lived in the top 10 or 15 in recruiting classes for decades.

Raymond, a former LSU cornerback from New Iberia, helped land such LSU stars as safety Jamal Adams of Carrollton, Texas, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. of Baton Rouge, cornerback Kristian Fulton of New Orleans, safety JaCoby Stevens of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte of New Iberia.

On Tuesday, Kelly announced the hiring of a previous LSU ace recruiter, Frank Wilson, who was the Tigers’ recruiting coordinator from 2010-15, as associate head coach.

Kelly has also retained LSU offensive line coach Brad Davis, who will be the Tigers’ interim head coach for the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4 in Houston against Kansas State. Davis, a Baton Rouge native, left the offensive line coach position at Arkansas after one season last June to come to LSU.

“Our offensive line has made tremendous strides under his leadership this season,” Kelly said Wednesday. “And his expertise and technical knowledge of offensive line play will remain vital to our program. We are thrilled he will continue to recruit and develop elite student-athletes at LSU.”

Former LSU coach Ed Orgeron criticized the offensive line for much of the season as it finished 115th of 130 FBS schools and 13th of 14 SEC teams in sacks allowed with 38. Quarterback Max Johnson, who entered the NCAA transfer portal on Tuesday, spent much of the season under constant pressure as the offensive line struggled. The Tigers were also 117th in the nation and 13th in the SEC in rushing yards a game at 109.3.

“I’m extremely grateful to represent LSU,” Davis, 41, said. “I remain fully committed to helping coach Kelly and this staff win championships.”

Davis previously coached offensive lines at Portland State, James Madison, East Carolina and North Texas from 2013-16 before coaching the Florida offensive line in 2017 and at Missouri in 2018 and ’19.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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