Odds are Kenny Dillingham just made a slew of moves in that fraction of a second.
Dillingham has certainly made his presence felt by Sun Devil nation with his energetic introductory press conference, his positive attitude on social media and his commitment to recruiting top players and coaches for the program.
It takes a village to bring wins to a football team, and Dillingham has wasted no time getting coaches on his staff for next season.
Now that Dillingham has his guys, with a few spots left to fill, let’s get to know who’s going to be in the building, on the field and out recruiting players in efforts to bring a winning culture back to Tempe.
Brian Ward has coached all over the map. From his alma mater McPherson College, Glendale Community College, North Dakota State, all the way to Syracuse, Nevada and Washington State, Ward has coached some very successful defenses. Most notably, Ward’s defense at Syracuse in 2017 and 2018 were regarded as one of the nation’s best. In those years, Syracuse was in the top-10 in the nation in interceptions, fumbles, sacks and turnovers. He went to Nevada for two seasons and their defense went from 48th to 8th in the country in turnovers. He was at Washington State this year, now he turns to the desert to take a defense that has struggled for the past few seasons with hopes of turning it around.
Vince Amey - Defensive Line
A Rose Bowl-Sun Devil alum, Vince Amey is coming in with a ton of experience as the defensive-line coach. Amey was a defensive tackle at ASU in 1997’s epic Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State. He then coached at different Arizona high schools for years before spending time at Arizona as an assistant strength coach, and then eventually, the defensive-line coach. Other stops included the Alliance of American Football’s (AAF) San Diego Fleet and the XFL’s LA Wildcats before going to work as the defensive ends coach at Idaho State.
A.J. Cooper - Linebackers (reported by John Brice, footballscoop.com)
Ward’s linebackers coach is coming with him to ASU in the likes of A.J Cooper.
Cooper, who was on staff as the defensive run game coordinator at Washington State where he coached one of the top defenses in the Pac-12. Prior to his job in Pullman, Cooper was the defensive ends coach at Wyoming for six seasons. The defenses he was coaching were consistently at the top of the rankings in takeaways, defensive touchdowns, fumble recoveries, points allowed, and total defense.
He’s a guy that knows what good defense looks like. Paired with a DC that he’s worked with before, this should be a fun group to watch in 2023.
Bryan Carrington - Cornerbacks coach (reported by Matt Zenitz, on3.com)
Bryan Carrington is going to be working with the defensive backs, and he’s worked in some top-tier programs over the last few years.
In his most recent role as an offensive analyst and recruiting coordinator with TCU, Carrington was a piece in the Horned Frogs’ run to the College Football Playoff. Prior to TCU, he spent a year as a quality control analyst for USC, was a recruiting assistant for Houston and at Texas as the director of recruiting.
Since 2016, he was credited with signing 11 five-star recruits, including Bijan Robinson, along with back-to-back top three recruiting classes in the country.
He was recognized twice by 247sports in its collegiate rankings of rising stars “Top 30 Under 30,” so expect a coach who knows how to get top rated players to sign on the dotted line.
Beau Baldwin - Offensive Coordinator (reported by Brandon Marcello, 247sports)
Beau Baldwin coached Cooper Kupp at Eastern Washington, do I need to say more?
I will. Baldwin won an FCS national title back in 2016 as the head coach of Easter Washington, where he coached for nine years. Before his head coaching days, Baldwin was the quarterbacks coach at Central Washington for nine years, and before that he spent a season in Sweden playing semi-professional football. In his time as a collegiate coach, Baldwin has been a part of two FCS national titles, 10 conference championships and 12 playoff appearances.
Needless to say, Beau Baldwin is prepared for the job he is stepping into at ASU.
Saga Tuitele - Offensive line coach (reported by Matt Zenitz, on3.com)
Saga Tuitele is a lineman both at heart and in practice. Tuitele blocked for Portland State back in the ‘90s before trading in his cleats for a whistle.
He has been the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at schools like Portland State, Cal Poly, Army, New Mexico and most recently Fresno State. At New Mexico, the Lobos were the number one team in the nation in almost every rushing category, including two 1,000 yard rushers. That was his first season. Their line was the strength of the offense while Tuitele was in New Mexico, and he then transitioned to Army and Fresno State after that.
A position group that desperately needs help at ASU seems to have the right coach for the task.
Shaun Aguano - Running backs coach
Tempe is no stranger to coach Aguano, and he’s become both a team and fan favorite for the job he did this fall. There were some messy games in his stint as interim head coach, but I don’t think anyone blames Aguano for the fire he was thrown into. Aguano signed on as the running backs coach for ASU in 2019 after his successful years at Chandler High School.
X Valladay was Aguano’s guy this year and Rachaad White the previous two years. He’s clearly someone who really cares about his players and will do anything to help them get better day after day. Dillingham was probably the most eager guy in the room to announce the return of Aguano as well.
Ra’Shaad Samples - Wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator (reported by Peter Thamel, ESPN)
The least experienced and perhaps one of the most exciting hires comes in the form of Ra’Shaad Samples. Samples, who was a four-star receiver at Oklahoma State and Houston just a decade ago, is coming from the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff. Samples has been working as the running backs coach for the Rams, and he started as a student assistant at Houston before taking a job with SMU as an offensive assistant and a top recruiter.
He was quickly promoted to recruiting coordinator and eventually assistant head coach with SMU before leaving for Los Angeles. At only 27 years old, Samples is the kind of guy that can relate to recruits ASU is trying to bring in and clearly has the intelligence required for coaching at a high level. His connections to Texas will be essential.
Charlie Ragle - Assistant head coach/Special teams coordinator
Charlie Ragle is another coach with Arizona ties. As the Chaparral High School head coach, Ragle won three state championships in five years. He signed onto the University of Arizona staff in 2013 where he would be the special teams coordinator for four seasons. Ragle then went to Cal in the same role along with coaching the tight ends. His special teams units were always near the top of the Pac-12 in their performance and he has a history of recruiting high level players at key special teams positions.
Ragle will also reportedly help coach edge rushers.
Joe Connolly - Head Coach of Sports Performance
Joe Connolly isn’t a new face on the Sun Devil staff, but a welcomed returner. Connolly, a professional powerlifter, handles all things strength and conditioning for players on the roster. He’s been in this position for five years now, and he’s the guy who worked with N’Keal Harry, Eno Benjamin, D.J. Davidson, Brandon Aiyuk and all the other recent Devils in the league. In his time as coach of sports performance, Connolly has implemented an innovative system that creates fitness plans for each unique individual player.