Houston Cougars Coaching Staff 2023

While the Houston Cougars will be new to the Big 12 in 2023, UH has coaches who know the conference very well.

A new gauntlet begins in H-Town as the Houston Cougars get their long-awaited elevation to the Big 12 Conference. Here’s the 2023 coaching staff leading the Cougars into the new realm, including one who is quite familiar with the conference.

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Houston Cougars 2023 Coaching Staff

Head Coach, Dana Holgorsen

After a five-year absence, Holgorsen is back in the Big 12.

He was previously with West Virginia from 2011-2018, which included the Mountaineers’ transition to the conference. Holgorsen finished with a 38-32 record in the Power 5 conference. However, none of his Mountaineer teams finished higher than second place, and the year they settled for second saw WVU share that spot in 2016 following a 10-3 mark.

MORE: Houston 2023 season predictions

Holgorsen had a rather rough start in Houston, going 4-8 in his first season, then 3-5 during the truncated 2020 campaign. His last two Cougar teams, though, have gone a combined 20-7 overall and ended with two bowl wins.

Even before being a head coach in the Big 12, Holgorsen experienced the conference as a co-offensive coordinator, helping guide the Texas Tech Red Raiders’ offense from 2005-2007 during the days of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. Right off the bat, Holgorsen and the Cougs will get tested early, as their Big 12 opener on September 16 is a home game against the national title game runner-up, TCU.

Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator, Doug Belk

Belk gets the Cougars’ defense to himself for a second straight year, having been promoted to full-time DC in 2022 after working with the Cougar defensive backs.

In the American Athletic Conference, Belk helped build the “Third Ward” defense, which is a 4-2-5 look with at least one standup edge rusher (or the Bandit as that player is called). The former defensive back Belk, though, helped cause confusion and chaos from his secondary, as his safeties would sometimes replace the inside linebacker over the middle post-snap to mix up their coverages and confuse quarterbacks. But UH additionally ran a two-high safety look during most AAC games and rushed as many as four.

Big 12 offenses should anticipate a four-man pressure with a lot of coverage mixing from Belk. They’re also expecting a top 10 national defense from last year, as UH ranked sixth with 302.2 yards allowed per game.

Notable defenders who came from the “Third Ward”? New Orleans Saints 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner and 2022 second-rounder Logan Hall of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach, Mike Jinks

Jinks is entering his second season at UH, but he gives Holgorsen an additional head coach, having spent 2016-2018 with Bowling Green.

Jinks is another who’s no stranger to Big 12 play. From 2013-15, he was in Lubbock with Texas Tech.

Last season, three different Cougar RBs — Stacy Sneed, Ta’Zhawn Henry, and Brandon Campbell — all recorded 100-yard games under Jinks. He was also at USC from 2019-2021, where he coached Vavae Malepeai for all three seasons, producing 15 touchdowns across those campaigns.

Tight Ends and Inside Wide Receivers Coach, Corby Meekins

Meekins has been with Holgorsen and UH since 2020. Christian Trahan turned in career-high numbers under Meekins in his two seasons with him.

Meekins additionally has a background in helping produce future NFL talent on the defensive line. He was the high school football head coach of UH great Ed Oliver at Spring Westfield High during a time when a young Oliver rose to a five-star ranking. Meekins was also on the staff when Tom Herman was the head coach and helped create the “H-Town Takeover” in landing prized local recruits.

Meekins had a previous coaching stop at Texas under Herman from 2017-2019, which included working with future NFL WR Devin Duvernay.

Wide Receivers Coach, Daikiel Shorts Jr.

Shorts has gone from having an interim WR coach label in 2021 to having the entire group to coach in 2022. Under his watch, UH wideouts have produced 644 total catches (eighth in the nation in that span) and 72 touchdown catches (seventh nationally). And last season, he produced the nation’s leader in receiving yardage, Nathaniel “Tank” Dell.

Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator, Eman Naghavi

Naghavi is the newcomer joining the UH staff, as he was lured in on January 28, 2023. Last season, he witnessed the New Year’s Six bowl game experience, helping produce Tulane’s Cotton Bowl win over USC as the Green Wave’s OL coach. Naghavi is a Texas native, having grown up in nearby Katy.

Quarterbacks Coach, Mike Burchett

Burchett has had a personal rise through Holgorsen, going from offensive analyst in 2019 to being officially named QBs coach on February 27. It won’t be his first time in a QB coach role, as he got Fordham to lead the Patriot League in passing in 2018. He was also an analyst and graduate assistant under Holgorsen at WVU from 2015-17.

Defensive Line Coach, Brian Early

Early has overseen the Cougar defensive trenches since 2019. During his time, he’s produced five All-AAC selections. But last season, he produced first-team member D’Anthony Jones, who delivered the most combined forced fumbles in the nation from 2021-22. He also coached Turner and Hall at UH.

Linebackers Coach, Archie McDaniel

McDaniel is entering season three at Houston. Last year, Donavan Mutin led UH with 85 tackles under McDaniel’s tutelage before the ‘backer joined the Indianapolis Colts. He also thrived with Oklahoma transfer Jamal Morris, who delivered career-bests in total tackles (43) and solo stops (22).

Secondary Coach, David Rowe

Rowe is another who has worked his way up Holgorsen’s staff, as he’s gone from cornerbacks coach to the entire secondary. Last season’s DB unit saw four different defenders produce seven to ten pass deflections. One of his stars was New York Giants’ 2023 day three pick Gervarrius Owens.

Special Teams Coach, Mark Scott

Scott isn’t just a longtime UH assistant under Holgorsen, he was with him at WVU before heading to Houston. Scott has produced five All-Conference special team members since 2019. He began as a grad assistant under Holgorsen in 2012 before eventually being elevated to LBs and special teams coach in 2017-18.

The rest of the UH staff are:

  • Director of Strength & Performance, Darl Bauer
  • Assistant Director of Football, Ryan Dorchester
  • Assistant Director of S&P, Kevin McCadam
  • Assistant S&P coach, Brett Holgorsen
  • Assistant S&P coach, Nate Majnaric
  • Assistant S&P coach, David Underwood
  • Director of Football Operations, Joe Alcoser
  • Assistant Director of Operations and Player Development, Marielle McLoughlin
  • Director of Player Personnel, Casey Smithson
  • Assistant Director of Player Personnel, T.J. Randall
  • Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Rajesh Murti
  • Assistant Director of Defensive Player Personnel, Jimmy Jongebloed
  • Assistant Director of Scouting, Martin Marroquin
  • Offensive Analyst, Dylan August
  • Offensive Analyst, Robert Beacham
  • Defensive Analyst, Matt Ellerbrock
  • Defensive Analyst, Larry Hart
  • Defensive Analyst, Will Weaver
  • Special Teams Analyst, Chris Forestier
  • Offensive Grad Assistant, Shane Creamer
  • Defensive Grad Assistant, Nathon Trawick
  • Defensive Grad Assistant, Garrison Vaughn
  • Director of On-Campus Recruiting, Courtney Helom
  • On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator, Paige Smith
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