UPDATED, Wed., 3:11 p.m.: The reputable CoachingSearch.com has a source saying Andersen has considered tabbing one of his old Utah State connections for Wisconsin's running backs coach:
Per source, one coach the Gary Andersen has considered for the running backs job at Wisconsin is current Utah defensive line coach Ilaisa Tuiaki. Before joining the Utah staff, Tuiaki coached the running backs at Utah State for Gary Andersen.
As the Badgers continue their efforts to push deeper into new recruiting territories, Tuiaki could be a hire that makes sense. For the Utes, he currently recruits Dallas, Central Valley California, Hawaii and American Samoa, per his official bio. At Utah State in 2011, he oversaw a backfield that produced 282.7 yards per game, sixth-most in the country. Most notably, that group included Robert Turbin, who was named the 2011 WAC Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,517 yards (6.1 per carry) and a school-record 19 touchdowns. Turbin is now part of the Seattle Seahawks' backfield.
Tuiaki has also coached fullbacks and tight ends at Utah.
Blink, and you missed it: FootballScoop.com tweeted this morning that Wisconsin has selected a running backs coach, though the announcement is still a couple of days away.
@Barton1331 Due to state law they have to wait until the 20th to officially make the hire. They have their guy though (just can’t say who)— FootballScoop Staff (@footballscoop) February 18, 2014
Tantalizing! Here's one more bit of information:
@WiscoSportsNut Correct. It is not Horton— FootballScoop Staff (@footballscoop) February 18, 2014
That would be San Diego State running backs coach Jeff Horton, who coached Wisconsin's quarterbacks from 1999-2005 and later replaced our old bud Tim Brewster as Minnesota's interim head coach once Brewster was fired midway through the 2010 season.
Back on National Signing Day, Thomas Hammock announced he was leaving Wisconsin for the Baltimore Ravens.
Regarding the remaining possible replacements, our Andrew Rosin had some thoughts on the vacancy and gave us his favorite:
Who's my pick for Wisconsin's next running backs coach?
I have one. It's Al Washington from Boston College, and quite frankly, I favor him with some distance. Now, I don't expect you to know who exactly Washington is. So, to borrow a bit from the home office, I'll give you three reasons why.
1. He'll be a help in recruiting.
You want to know why D.J. Gillins put Boston College in his hat race? Washington was his primary recruiter. Washington was also involved in helping the Eagles land seven recruits last season. He also recruited in the same areas as Thomas Hammock. He's diving into Georgia, and he did plenty of work on the East Coast. So, his hire would mean we wouldn't have to re-acclimate someone with Hammock's region.
Washington turns 30 in April. He's young enough to have a Rivals page from his playing days. That's not to say recruiting is a young man's game, but it's a game where energy is a necessity. If the Badgers are going to recruit as hard as they did last year, Washington would be a big help to the cause.
3. Let's not forget the actual working with running backs.
A part of the reason why Hammock was so great was that he was able to get a lot out of some very talented backs. Andre Williams explosion for Boston College, while not the sample size that one might desire, is a very good omen for Washington's skill set in molding the running backs of the future.
I mean, after one year, he produced a Heisman Trophy finalist out of a solid running back who's previous career-high in yardage was 584 and improved his yards per attempt by almost 2. That is something you want.
Of course, there are still other candidates in play who would help keep the Badgers at the level they're accustomed to. I like Purdue's Jafar Williams, despite the fact he has that first season of Boilermaker stank on him, and Utah's Ilaisa Tuiaki does have previous Gary Andersen coaching experience, as well as inroads into the fast-paced world of Texas football. But we shall see.
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