Herman hires four staff members at Texas

Tom Herman at his introductory press conference (Will Gallagher/IT)

Tom Herman at his introductory press conference (Will Gallagher/IT)

Via UT release

Texas Football Head Coach Tom Herman has hired four members to his staff, he announced Monday.

The group includes two defensive assistant coaches in Todd Orlando, who will serve as defensive coordinator, and Craig Naivar (NYE-ver). Full positions and titles for the assistant coaches will be announced after the completion of the staff.

Additionally, Yancy McKnight will serve as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Football, while Tory Teykl (TAKE-ul) will be Director of Football Operations. All four come from Herman’s staff in Houston.

“I couldn’t be more excited about adding this group of tremendous coaches and staff to our team at Texas,” Herman said. “Todd is as good as it comes in a defensive coordinator. He did an unbelievable job for us at Houston and has long track record of leading defenses that speaks for itself.  Craig was a critical part of our defensive staff at Houston and brings deep Texas roots and great relationships across this state.

“Your strength coach is one of the most important members of your staff because he’s with the kids year around, and Yancy has everything you’d ever want in that position. He will work these kids extremely hard, really get to know them as young men and do a terrific job getting this team ready both physically and mentally to win a lot of games. Tory, like our other administrative staffers, is great in her role, totally aligned with our coaches and critical to the success of our program.”

During his 23-year coaching career, Orlando has served as a defensive coordinator at Houston (2015-16), Utah State (2013-14), Florida International (2011-12) and UConn (2005-10).

“It’s a great opportunity to get back with Coach Herman and especially the defensive staff,” Orlando said. “To have a chance to win championships at one of the greatest institutions in the country is exciting to me and my family.”

Over his two seasons at Houston, he helped the Cougars to a 22-5 record, which is the fourth-best win total in the FBS in that span. That included two bowl appearances with a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Florida State and an American Athletic Conference Championship (AAC) in 2015, leading to a No. 8 final ranking in both polls.

“Our defense is going to be multiple,” Orlando said. “It’s an attack kind of mode. It’s player friendly in terms of the concepts, and it’s very learnable. To have some of the athletes that I know we are going to have here to be able to do it will be exciting.”

This season, UH has featured the nation’s fourth-ranked rush defense (100.2 ypg), in addition to the nation’s 13th-best defense in total yards allowed (319.6 ypg). Houston is third nationally with five defensive touchdowns and allowed just 23.5 points per game. The Cougars also have ranked as one of the nation’s best in bringing pressure, ranking 14th in both sacks and tackles for loss. In a win over No. 3 Louisville, Orlando’s defense contained eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to 20-of-43 passing (46.5%) for 211 yards and a season-low 33 rushing yards, while sacking him 11 times, an AAC single-game record and second most in UH history.

“Getting a chance to work with somebody for two years, you understand what they want,” Orlando said of Herman. “The biggest part is doing things that a head coach doesn’t have to worry about. There’s a certain way things are done, and he should not have to explain that to guys he’s been with. I think that’s really important. The staff itself, having worked with those guys, they understand their roles and understand what we have to do.”

In Orlando’s first season at Houston, his opportunistic and attacking defense forced 12 teams below their scoring average with the two teams eclipsing their average, doing so by less than one point. The defense led the nation with 35 takeaways while ranking eighth nationally in rushing defense (108.9 yards per game) and 20th nationally in scoring defense (20.7 points per game).

In Orlando’s two seasons at Utah State, the Aggies’ defense ranked among the nation’s best in scoring defense (12th nationally in 2014 at 19.7 ppg, and seventh nationally in 2013 at 17.1 ppg) and turnovers forced with 59, the nation’s eighth-best two-year total, ranking 10th nationally in 2014 with 30 turnovers. The USU defense was fourth nationally with 49 sacks in 2014 and second nationally with 114 tackles for loss, as Utah State advanced to back-to-to-back bowl games.

Prior to Utah State, Orlando spent two years as the defensive coordinator at Florida International (2011-12). During his first year at FIU in 2011, the Panthers’ defense ranked 13th nationally in pass efficiency defense (111.98), 14th in scoring defense (19.5 ppg), tied for 15th in sacks (2.7 pg), 22nd in rushing defense (118.1 ypg) and 30th in total defense (344.7 ypg). In 2012, FIU ranked 36th nationally in rushing defense (140.8 ypg).

Orlando went to Florida International after a 12-year stint at Connecticut, including six seasons (2005-10) as the defensive coordinator. In 2010, Orlando’s defense helped the Huskies capture the Big East Championship and play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Prior to Connecticut, Orlando spent three seasons as the linebackers coach at the University of Pennsylvania. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., he began his coaching career holding the position of defensive coordinator at Central Catholic High School (1994) and Fox Chapel Area High School (1995) in Pennsylvania. Orlando was a three-year letterwinner at inside linebacker at Wisconsin and a member of the 1994 Big Ten Championship team that defeated UCLA in the Badgers’ first Rose Bowl appearance since 1963.

A native of Taylor, Texas, Naivar has spent 18 of his 23 years in coaching within the state of Texas, including two stops at Texas State (2004-06, ‘11-13), along with Rice (2007-10), Sam Houston State (2000-03) and Hardin-Simmons (1994-95), in addition to Houston (2015-16) where he was co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Naivar has also worked at Kentucky (2014), Southern Illinois (1998-99) and New Mexico (1996-97). During his career, he has served as either a defensive or special teams coordinator or co-coordinator for 21 seasons.

“I’m really fired up about this opportunity,” Naivar said. “I grew up in Taylor, Texas, right down the road from when I was five years old until I graduated from high school. I came to every Texas home football game. My mother has passed, but she worked at The University with the College Board, so this has been a dream of mine to work here.”

In 2016, a significant amount of the pressure that allowed Houston to rank 14th in both sacks and tackles for loss came from the team’s two safeties, as Garrett Davis and Khalil Williams combined for 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Williams was also third on the team with 69 tackles, while Davis was fifth with 65. Primarily a special teams player in 2015, Davis developed into a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in 2016 under Naivar, ranking second in the conference among defensive backs with his seven tackles for loss.

“I think the plan and model of how we run our program with more people on board here who have been through that process will make this an easier transition than bringing in coaches from a lot of different places,” Naivar said. “Every job is different, but bringing in a lot of familiar faces makes it a lot easier. I’m excited to get these young men out on the football field.”

Naivar’s first season at Houston saw the Cougars lead the nation in takeaways with 35 as Trevon Stewart and Adrian McDonald anchored the middle of the secondary and earned first-team and second-team All-AAC honors, respectively. Stewart set the program’s career fumble recovery mark with 10 after recovering four in 2015, the second-best total in the nation. McDonald set the Houston career interceptions record with 17 after pulling in four in 2015.

McKnight brings ties to both the state of Texas and the Big 12 after spending the last two seasons as director for football sports performance at Houston, and previously working at Iowa State (2009-14), Rice (2006-08) and Oklahoma State (2002-03). He also served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Louisiana Tech for two seasons (2004-05).

“I’m ready for the challenge and ready to get to work,” McKnight said. “I’m looking forward to getting with our players. It’s a big-time opportunity. I think the expectations and traditions at The University of Texas are obvious. That’s what we’re going to expect on a day-to-day basis in every single rep, every single practice, and every single day that we train. It’s all going to be about winning championships.”

McKnight is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), a certified strength and conditioning coach (SCCC), and a USA Weightlifting Level I certified coach.

“A lot of our current staff at The University of Texas has been together the last couple of years, so I have a good feel of what the expectations are with positional needs from a training side of it for our players and what the demands are for them for games and practice,” McKnight said. “Having one voice and one message throughout our whole program is critical. It all comes from Coach Herman and trickles down to every person who touches our football program.”

A native of Joplin, Mo., McKnight was a Division II All-American on the offensive line at Missouri Southern, earning his degree from the school in 2001. He was inducted into the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

Teykl was named director of internal operations at Houston in January 2015, after spending the 2014 season as director of football operations. She spent the 2013 season as the program’s associate director of football operations, her first as a member of the UH football staff, after spending four years in the marketing department as director for marketing and promotions. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M.

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