Troy football looking for two offensive assistants
TROY – With the Christmas break upon him, Troy head coach Neal Brown said Wednesday he will take some time to evaluate options for the vacancies on his staff.
On Monday, South Alabama officially announced that Troy offensive coordinator/inside receiver coach Kenny Edenfield had accepted its offensive coordinator role. Additionally, all FBS programs can add a 10th assistant coach to their staffs beginning Jan. 9.
Brown said he will be looking to hire two offensive assistants after the turn of the year since the defensive staff currently has a full complement of five assistant coaches.
“We’ve got two offensive positions open. We’re gonna take a break really and revisit it in the beginning of the new year,” the coach said. “I think the 10th assistant was needed. If you look at the coach-to-player ratio in football compared with the coach-to-player ratio in other sports … it’s needed.”
Brown said the 10th assistant will not primarily be a special teams coordinator but may have some role in those units.
“What we basically do is divide and conquer special teams,” he said. “Jon (Sumrall) has the title, and he organizes it. He has his hands in everything. Special teams will come up early in the interview.”
Brown said interviews for the 10th assistant will begin after the calendar turns to 2018.
Brown said he has one objective when filling the vacancies.
“We’re gonna hire the best people that fit into what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not looking to change what we’re doing from an offensive perspective. We want to hire people who are gonna enhance what we’re doing.”
Clemons to contribute in 2018: Last year, the Trojans signed two prospects in December: East Mississippi Community College’s Damion Willis and Rasool Clemons. While Willis finished with 42 catches for 620 yards and three touchdowns in 2017, Clemons only played in the Alabama State game.
Brown said the former three-star recruit made strides throughout the year while recovering from a knee injury suffered while playing at EMCC.
“We knew it was going to be a process,” Brown said. “He was in our developmental squad all year. He got better as the year went.”
Clemons, at 6-foot-5, will provide some length to the defensive line, Brown said. The coach expects the defensive end to make a strong contribution in 2018.
“We didn’t have very many balls batted down, where Junior (Gnonkonde) in 2016 had a lot of passes defended from his defensive end position,” Brown said. “We’re hoping Rasool can come in (to provide that). He’s had a lot of growth over the past few years.”
Under the radar: Two Trojans who may not have had the breakout seasons many expected, wide receiver Sidney Davis and linebacker A.J. Smiley, actually played well this season – even though their numbers don’t necessary reflect it, Brown said.
In 2016, Davis caught 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 57 yards and another score on six carries. In 2017, Davis caught eight passes for 77 yards and rushed three times for 38 yards.
Brown said the only difference between the two seasons is that Davis didn’t have two clutch plays like he did in 2016. Davis caught long passes to set up game-winning scores against South Alabama and Appalachian State that year.
“He really played well. Sometimes when you play receiver, a lot of things have to go right before you get the ball,” Brown said. “He was one of our best perimeter blockers. We used him a lot in our option game again.”
Smiley, who missed the 2016 season with a significant foot injury, switched positions this year from spear (nickelback) to linebacker. Brown said Smiley, who registered 15 tackles, had to adjust to the new role but shined on special teams.
“He was playing closer to the box than he’s ever played. He was a safety in high school,” Brown said. “He played a critical role on our special teams.”
Brown said the spring season will be “critical” for his career.
“He’s got to continue to get stronger, and his knowledge of what we’re doing defensively will continue to grow,” the coach said. “I look for both of those guys (Davis and Smiley) to be key players for us in the fall.”