BOULDER — New University of Colorado head football coach Jon Embree officially filled several assistant coaching positions on his staff Friday, announcing five new hires, most of whom are familiar faces.
Embree named Greg Brown defensive coordinator and secondary coach; Steve Marshall as offensive line coach; Mike Tuiasosopo and Kanavis McGhee as defensive line coaches, and J.D. Brookhart as offensive passing game coordinator, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
I am excited about this staff, and look forward to the players and the public to get to know these guys,” Embree said. “Most have college and professional experience, they’ve coached at the highest level, have been involved in big games and in big situations. The group as a whole has a great number of relationships both locally and nationally. That helps when coaching the players, in relating to them, in giving some credibility because they’ve been where the players are trying to get to.”
All but Tuiasosopo have ties to either the CU program or the state of Colorado.
This will be the 53-year old Brown’s third stint on the CU staff, as he first worked under head coach Bill McCartney as secondary coach from 1991-93; during that run, he played a vital role in the development of CU’s two Jim Thorpe Award winners, Deon Figures and Chris Hudson. He then returned to Boulder as defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator for four seasons (2006-09) under Dan Hawkins before he left for a co-defensive coordinator position this past fall at the University of Arizona.
Marshall, 54, rejoins the CU staff from the University of California, where he has coached the offensive line the past two seasons. He was on the Colorado staff for the 2000 and 2001 seasons, also as the OL coach, when he was instrumental in the coaching of All-America guard Andre Gurode and All-Big 12 tackle Victor Rogers. In-between his two “UCB” jobs, he spent six years in the National Football League, four with the Houston Texans (2002-05) and two with the Cleveland Browns (2007-08).
McGhee, 42, brings great recruiting connections to the talent-rich Houston area, graduated from Colorado in 1995 with a degree in Business Administration. He did not coach this past fall, his first not on the sidelines in 13 years, but instead taught college courses in business at Challenge Early College High School. He’ll finish out the semester and then join the CU staff full-time the first week of January.
He lettered four seasons at outside linebacker for the Buffaloes (1987-90), becoming just the fourth player at the time to earn first-team all-league honors three different years; he also was an All-American his junior season. He went on to play 50 games in the NFL with three different teams in five years, the New York Giants (who drafted him in the second round of the ’91 draft), Cincinnati and Houston.
While McGhee’s college coaching resume is limited to one year at Gannon (Pa.) University, where he coached the linebackers in 2008, he spent two seasons in NFL Europe as a defensive assistant with the Amsterdam Admirals (2006-07) and has coached 10 seasons in the Houston-area high school ranks. He began his career at Wheatley High School, his alma mater, where he spent three years (1997-99) coaching the defensive line, including the last two as defensive coordinator. He then moved on to Madison High, where he coached for five seasons (2000-04), the first as defensive line coach and the last four as defensive coordinator. In 2005, he was the head coach at Ross Shaw Sterling High, and he returned to the area in 2009 and was an assistant at Bellaire High.
Brookhart, 46, was born in Pueblo and graduated from Englewood’s Cherry Creek High School in 1983. He graduated from Colorado State, where he was a three-year starter at wide receiver and a 1987 GTE Academic All-American. His extensive coaching resume includes six seasons (2004-09) as head coach at Akron University, where he was 30-42 overall with a Mid-American Conference East Division title in 2005 which earned the Zips a trip to the Motor City Bowl.
He began his coaching career with the Denver Broncos as an assistant in 1995 under then first-year head coach Mike Shanahan. In that role, he coordinated the defensive scout team and breaking down the opponent offenses while also working with special teams. After two seasons with the Broncos, Brookhart entered the collegiate ranks, joining Walt Harris’ staff at the University of Pittsburgh as tight ends coach while assisting with special teams, serving in that capacity for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. He then took over the wide receivers in 1999, the position he would coach the next five seasons, including after he was named offensive coordinator the following year (2000). Among the players he coached were Antonio Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald, both Biletnikoff Award winners who went on to stardom in the NFL.
Tuiasosopo, 47, has spent the last seven seasons as the defensive line coach at the University of Arizona, teaming with Brown this past fall. After graduation from Pacific Lutheran University in 1989 with a degree in Physical Education and Health, he soon entered coaching, working as the defensive line and special teams coach at Montclair Academy (Van Nuys, Calif.) in 1992, before joining the University of Pacific staff as a graduate assistant the following year. While coaching at Pacific and nearby St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, he earned his master’s degree from Pacific in Education Administration Credentials in 1992.
He would serve as head coach the next three seasons (1993-95) at Berkeley High School before joining the Division I-A coaching ranks at Utah State, where he coached the defensive line from 1997-1999 before moving on to do the same at the University of Nevada the next three years (2000-02). He coached the defensive tackles for one year (’03) at the University of Utah before moving on to Arizona. He also served two NFL Minority Intern Fellowships, with the San Francisco 49ers (1997) and the Green Bay Packers (2002).
Previously announced the same day Embree was hired was that former Buff All-American running back Eric Bieniemy would be the offensive coordinator. He’ll also coach the running backs, his current position with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, where he is also assistant head coach for the offense.
Announced at the same time was that long-time linebackers coach Brian Cabral, who has been on the CU staff since 1989, was being retained. Cabral will also serve as the defensive running game coordinator.
Two assistant positions remain vacant at present, those for the quarterbacks and receivers. Embree stated he had several options for the two, and one or both could go unfilled until January once the college bowl season is finished and the NFL regular season is completed.
In other news, Embree’s first spring practice will begin on Friday, March 11 with the annual spring game set for Saturday, April 9.