Projecting Brian Kelly’s first LSU football coaching staff

Mandatory Credit: Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 2
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Defensive coordinator/safeties

Daronte Jones (LSU DC) — Jones ended up doing a good job as LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2021, despite some tough obstacles. I detailed here why I think Kelly should retain Jones. Continuity in recruiting, combined with continuing the defensive system already in place, would be the main reasons for Kelly to retain Jones.


Jordan Kovacs (Cincinnati Bengals defensive quality control) — Kovacs is a former Michigan linebacker who currently works as a defensive quality control coach (focusing on linebackers) with the Bengals. Daronte Jones coached in Cincinnati with Kovacs in 2019, so this is a hire that would give the defense some continuity (it appears that Blake Baker, who served as LSU’s linebackers coach in 2021, could be on his way to SMU to serve as the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator). Kovacs, who played three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, was a graduate assistant at Michigan before joining the Bengals’ staff.

Defensive line

Rusty McKinney (Arizona Cardinals defensive assistant) — This is another hire that would be for staff continuity purposes. McKinney coached alongside Daronte Jones with the Dolphins in 2016 and 2017. McKinney has done a great job in Arizona as a defensive assistant working with the Cardinals’ defensive line. Arizona is currently ranked No. 6 in the NFL in sacks per game with 2.6.


Corey Raymond (LSU cornerbacks) — Raymond has been at LSU since 2012 as an assistant. He’s a Louisiana native and he played for the Tigers. Raymond is also a key recruiter for LSU. Kelly would be insane not to retain the longtime cornerbacks coach.

Special teams

Brian Polian (Notre Dame special teams) — I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if Polian stays at Notre Dame. But I think Kelly and LSU are going to throw some money at Polian just because they don’t want the optics of Polian turning down Kelly to stay in South Bend. We’ll see how this plays out. But I think Kelly will do what he can to make this move happen.