Projecting Brian Kelly’s first LSU football coaching staff

Mandatory Credit: Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports /
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New LSU football head coach Brian Kelly has plenty of items on his “to-do list” in the coming days/weeks.

One of his top priorities — outside of recruiting — is to hire a coaching staff.

Kelly was hoping to bring Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to Baton Rouge.

Freeman, however, was named the new Notre Dame head coach this week. And Rees, a former Irish quarterback, will be sticking around with Freeman in South Bend.

That means Kelly has a lot of work to do to fill out his staff. He’d be wise to retain a couple of LSU’s current coaches, while adding some fresh faces, too.

Here’s how I think his staff could look in 2022 (current job in parenthesis)

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Warren Ruggiero (Wake Forest OC/QBs) — Wake Forest had the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation this season. That’s going to make Ruggiero a hot name.

Ruggiero has been with Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson since 2009 at Bowling Green (he followed Clawson to Winston-Salem in 2014). Would Ruggiero leave Clawson’s side? He’s already 55 years old. If Ruggiero wants to progress in his career, time is running out. It would be hard to imagine Ruggiero passing up a shot to run an offense in the SEC.

Running backs

Kevin Faulk (LSU RBs) — This is the only logical move for Kelly to make at the running backs coach position. Faulk is an LSU legend. And he’s obviously familiar with the landscape of the state. This would help Kelly’s recruiting efforts greatly.

Wide receivers

Alvin Slaughter (Central Michigan WRs) — With Mickey Joseph going back to Nebraska (his alma mater), the Tigers need a wide receivers coach who can help in recruiting. Slaughter, a former LSU off-field assistant under Les MIles, would be a great option. Slaughter coached at Northwestern State for five years. He was also the head coach at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami. Those recruiting connections would be invaluable for Brian Kelly.

Offensive line

Jeff Quinn (Notre Dame OL) — Quinn has known Kelly for over three decades. It only makes sense that Quinn would follow Kelly to Baton Rouge. Quinn has coached with Kelly at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame. He also served as the head coach at Buffalo from 2010-2014.

Tight ends

Mike Denbrock (Cincinnati OC/TE) — Denbrock, like Quinn, has known Kelly since the 1980s. The two have coached together at Grand Valley State and Notre Dame. Denbrock left Notre Dame after the 2016 season to become the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. Would he leave to become a position coach at LSU? It might take some money — or maybe a co-offensive coordinator title — but it’s a move that Kelly should try to make. By the way, Kelly said recently that he and Denbrock are still “great friends”.