Who could fill the Cal assistant coaching vacancies?

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With two vacancies on their staff, Cal has a few ways they can go about their next assistant coaching search.

The departure of Marques Tuiasosopo and Marcel Yates could allow Cal to get a little flexible, depending on what the current staff decides is best for the team.

Would new outside linebackers coach Keith Heyward be interested in moving back to the secondary position, where he’s coached most of his career?

Could a Cal assistant shift over to coaching tight ends, similar to what Tuiasosospo did when he moved from quarterbacks to tight ends a few years back?

This opens up a host of candidates to be new Cal assistants. Let’s run down some high potentials!

Secondary coach

Here are some potential candidates for this position.

Gabe Franklin, Boise State safeties/nickels coach.

Franklin was mentioned as a potential candidate for secondary coach last year before Yates was selected. Franklin graduated from Boise in 2004, graduated from Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, and already did one stint as an administrative assistant with Cal in the late 2000s. Although Franklin didn’t overlap with Justin Wilcox, he did coach alongside Cal defensive line coach Andrew Browning at UTEP in the 2010s. Boise State’s pass defense has generally been ranked in the top third of college football.

Aric Williams, San Jose State defensive back coach

Williams is the local candidate with two years of experience with the Spartans. Williams played his college ball at Oregon State, so it’s likely Heyward (the former Beavers defensive back coach) has kept some tabs on him. San Jose State ballhawked in 2019 with 16 interceptions.

Julius Brown, Fresno State recruiting coordinator

Brown has almost a half-decade of experience with Wilcox dating back to Boise days—Brown was a graduate assistant, then director of player personnel. He then moved onto a decade of coaching secondary, in places like Arkansas State, Texas Tech, Utah State, and another return to Boise. Brown could provide a nice boost to Cal’s defensive recruiting efforts in the Central California area, a place the Bears haven’t performed up to par in landing commits the last decade.

Rod Chance, Oregon cornerbacks coach

Cal has already made one trade of Oregon assistants. Why not offer Chance the opportunity to coach an entire secondary, and team up with Keith Heyward yet again? Chance’s track record dating back to Minnesota as a cornerbacks coach and a defensive coordinator at Southern Utah has been stellar.

Tight end coach

Here are some potential candidates for this position.

Alonzo Carter, San Jose State running backs coach/recruiting coordinator

Although Tuiasosopo’s primary coaching slot was tight ends, his main utility was recruiting, being the frontline point of contact in getting prospects interested in the Bears. So it’d make sense for Cal to land another recruiter in this role.

Carter would be the obvious choice—the Bay Area staple was the Mountain West Recruiter of the Year in 2019. He’s been a high school coach at McClymonds and Berkeley and won league championships at both spots. He turned around Contra Costa College as head coach and won several conference titles. He’s trained a host of Cal Bears, including Marshawn Lynch, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jahvid Best and Keenan Allen. He also toured with MC Hammer and has a multi-platinum record. And he’s been front and center on social issues to connect with the greater college football community.

The only question is if Carter would be willing to shift to tight end coach, or if Cal would have to do some shuffling on the staff to make this work.

Jordan Paopao, Arizona tight end coach

Paopao worked with Wilcox before in Seattle. He was the long-term Washington tight end coach for nearly an entire decade under Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen, with his greatest success story being Mackey Award winner Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The problem is that Paopao just accepted the same role with Jedd Fisch and the Arizona Wildcats, so it’d be tough for him to back out of that position.

Winston Venable, Boise State running backs coach

Like Franklin, Venable is a Bay Area native (San Rafael) and could be enticed with additional coaching responsibilities—he was player development coordinator as well at Boise before taking on the RB coach position. Wilcox also coached Venable at Boise so that personal connection is definitely in place. Venable also spent some time coaching the special teams as well.

Savai'i Eselu, San Diego State tight ends coach

It’d be nice to have another former Cal Bear (2007-10) on the staff alongside Burl Toler. Eselu has spent most of the last decade at Moanalua High School in Honolulu, being the head coach for four years before joining Brady Hoke’s Aztecs. Experience would be the biggest question mark—this would only be his second year as a college coach.