After former wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Ted Gilmore opted to leave Wisconsin for a juicy pay raise at Michigan State, Paul Chryst is back on the coaching carousel in search of a new coach to fill the vacancy.
While the passing game coordinator title could easily transition to Jon Budmayr, the receiving coach position is a crucial role both to develop pass catchers, but also in recruiting. The Wisconsin Badgers will have some great options at their disposal to fill the job.
Here are a list of potential candidates that could be of interest as the new receiving coach at Wisconsin:
This is a long shot, but it is worth a phone call for Paul Chryst.
A 15-year NFL veteran, and alumnus of Penn State, Bobby Engram has extensive ties to the DMV (D.C. , Maryland, Virginia), a recruiting hotbed. Engram has served as the wide receiver coach at Pittsburgh under Chryst for a season, and his son — Dean Engram — is currently on the Wisconsin roster as a defensive back. Engram has been on the Baltimore Ravens staff since 2014, first as a receivers coach, but he switched to tight ends last season.
The lure to team back up with Chryst, someone who Engram adores and gushed about during the recruiting process of his son, could give the Badgers a chance. Add in the fact that the family has recently dealt with some significant family trauma, and a move for the family to be near their son Dean could make some sense.
A jump from the NFL back to college rarely happens, but it can’t hurt to call.
A prolific Wisconsin wide receiver turned NFL pro-bowler, Chris Chambers has the name recognition and ties to potentially make sense. Chambers is one of the most talented pass catchers in program history with over 2,000 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns during his collegiate career, and was a key cog in winning consecutive Rose Bowls in 1999 and 2000.
Following his ten seasons in the NFL, Chambers — an Ohio native — has turned to a career in sports performance in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Chambers is currently listed as Director of Barwis Sports & Football Operations, a company focused on peaking physical performance for athletes. Chambers has routinely mentored and helped train many current and former Wisconsin players in the off-season, and he also leads the Chamber Football Academy, a camp dedicated to teaching the game to youth and helping them get faster.
While Chambers may lack the pure coaching on the sideline work that team’s may covet, his ties to both Ohio and the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area could be a huge boost in recruiting. Add in his strong skills in football and athletic training, as well as his extensive time in the NFL, and he would be another great hire.
A veteran wide receiver coach, McDonald would be a big get for Wisconsin. He currently holds myriad roles at NC State, including recruiting coordinator, passing game coordinator, associate head coach, and wide receivers coach under former Badgers coach Dave Doeren.
A former Illinois wide receiver out of Indiana, he has 20 years of coaching experience across the college game and the NFL. Like Gilmore prior to being hired by Chryst, he has a bevy of experience and he is very highly regarded in the coaching circles. He has coached the likes of Eric Decker, Travis Benjamin, Allen Hurns, and Greg Jennings during his time as a receivers coach.
Wisconsin would likely need to give McDonald the title of passing game coordinator as well to lure him to Madison, but he is a reputable coach and recruiter if he would be interested in coming back to the midwest.
A veteran receivers coach, Michael Smith has extensive experience at the Power Five level, including the past couple seasons at Kentucky. A strong recruiter, Smith has ties to the Great Plains from his playing and coaching days at Kansas State, like Ted Gilmore, and has coached in the SEC since 2013.
It is not known if Smith would be willing to leave Kentucky for Wisconsin, but he is an established option that would fit in nicely in Madison.
Time is a flat circle right?
Chris Beatty served as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin under Gary Andersen during the 2013 and 2014 season before bouncing between Virginia, Maryland, and now Pitt.
Known for his recruiting chops in the Virginia and Maryland area, Beatty would bring a similar recruiting pedigree as Gilmore, but one has to wonder about his abilities given the number of jobs he has hopped between during his career.
Beatty has coached Percy Harvin (in high school), D.J. Moore, Jared Abbrederis, and Tavon Austin to name a few.
Wouldn’t it be nice to poach a different coach from within the Big Ten?
Grant Heard is a reputable wide receivers coach who is also the co-offensive coordinator at Indiana. He would likely require the title of passing game coordinator to hear out the opportunity, but he did a nice job of developing receivers at Ole Miss prior to his last few seasons at Indiana.
The Badgers would need to pony up some serious dough in order to secure his services, but he is the type of recruiter and coach that could elevate the position given his strong ties to the south.
A former Wisconsin offensive coordinator under Barry Alvarez, White has bounced around quite a bit as both a running backs coach, wide receivers coach, and tight end coach over his career. White has a love-hate relationship with many Badger fans, but he is known to be a good recruiter in the northeast due to his strong ties in the area.
White recently followed Steve Addazio to Colorado State, so a jump to Wisconsin could be enticing for the 55 year old assistant. He has previous experience at Washington, Syracuse, Florida, and Boston College.
The current wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator for Kent State, Middleton has many ties to the midwest, and is highly regarded by former Wisconsin player Sean Lewis (now head coach of Kent State).
Middleton has over 10 years of experience coaching the position including stops at both Kent State, South Dakota, and Kansas. While Middleton is a long shot for the position, he is a young option that is a good recruiter. He is likely two jobs away from a position such as Wisconsin though.
Known primarily for his heroic catch in the 2011 Big Ten Championship game, Jeff Duckworth was a graduate assistant for Paul Chryst in 2016 and in 2017 after his playing career at Wisconsin.
A native of Ohio, Duckworth is now the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at East Central University a NCAA Division II school in Oklahoma under former quality control coach Al Johnson.
Duckworth is most likely a few jobs away from the role, but he is a person to monitor given his strong ties to Wisconsin and Chryst.
I highly doubt Wisconsin goes this route. Abby is undoubtedly one of the best receivers to ever don the red and white, but he is currently a financial advisor. Abbrederis is a beloved player to many, but outside of his prolific college career and brief NFL time, his resume is not up to par with the rest.
While Jared Abbrederis has continued to be brought up by people on message boards and on twitter, unless he first joins the team as an analyst, he will likely continue to focused on being a family man.
This is far from an extensive list, as most likely the candidate chosen will come from elsewhere in the college football realm, but this shortlist is a quick guess as to the type of people who may be currently interested and/or contacted.
Stay up to date on the pending coaching search here at B5Q.