As the American Athletic Conference enters a new era in 2023, the Memphis Tigers are among the veteran teams striving to hold off the newcomers and secure a conference title. The Tigers last won a conference championship in 2019, and their coaching staff, led by Ryan Silverfield, aims to recapture that success. Silverfield played a crucial role in the team’s previous triumph and now looks to be the catalyst again in 2023.
Memphis Tigers Coaching Staff
Head Coach, Ryan Silverfield
Despite being a young head coach, Silverfield made his mark as a high school head coach at the age of just 23. Following the conclusion of the 2019 college football regular season and the departure of Mike Norvell to the Florida State Seminoles, Silverfield was announced as the 25th head coach of the Memphis football program.
Entering his fourth season as the Tigers’ head coach, Silverfield has already etched his name in the program’s records, even if the win-loss record may not appear as favorable as that of his predecessor. His win total in his first three years ties for the second-most in program history. Moreover, he became the first Memphis coach to win a bowl game in their debut season.
Although he has been the head coach since the 2020 season, Silverfield played a pivotal role in the success of Norvell’s Memphis teams from 2016 to 2019. Alongside his college résumé, which is detailed below, the Memphis head coach boasts NFL experience, including his work with the Minnesota o-line that paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s MVP-winning 2012 season.
- Hampden-Sydney College (offensive assistant, 2000; defensive line coach, 2001-2002; tight ends and H-backs coach, 2003)
- Jacksonville (QB coach, 2005)
- UCF (offensive graduate assistant, 2006; defensive graduate assistant, 2007)
- Toledo (offensive consultant, 2014)
- Arizona State (senior offensive analyst, 2015)
- Memphis (offensive line coach, 2016; OL coach and run game coordinator, 2017; OL coach, RGC, and assistant head coach, 2018; deputy head coach, RGC, and OL coach, 2019; HC, 2020-2023)
Offensive Coordinator, Tim Cramsey
A seasoned offensive coordinator and quarterback coach with experience at various levels of college football, Tim Cramsey joined the Memphis coaching staff as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator for the 2022 season. In his inaugural year leading the offense, Cramsey’s unit improved their scoring output by over five points per game compared to the previous season, resulting in a national ranking of 22nd.
Cramsey, who played as a quarterback and long snapper at New Hampshire, has built a reputation for developing award-winning quarterbacks throughout his coaching career. Notably, Jeremiah Briscoe won the Walter Payton Award under Cramsey’s guidance at Sam Houston. Additionally, while at Marshall, he helped Grant Wells earn CUSA Freshman of the Year honors following the 2020 season.
However, Cramsey’s coaching career extends beyond quarterback success alone. He has also played a significant role in the accomplishments of multiple wide receivers and running backs, who have earned notable accolades under his mentorship. His ability to make an impact across all position groups has made him a well-rounded and formidable offensive coordinator.
- New Hampshire (TE/FB coach, 2003-2005; RB coach, 2006-2007; QB coach, 2008; OC and QB coach, 2009-2011)
- FIU (OC and QB coach, 2012)
- Montana State (OC and QB coach, 2013-2015)
- Nevada (OC and QB coach, 2016)
- Sam Houston (OC and QB coach, 2017)
- Marshall (OC and QB coach, 2018-2021)
- Memphis (OC and QB coach, 2022-2023)
Defensive Coordinator, Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes joined the Memphis coaching staff before the 2022 college football season and immediately made a positive impact on the Tigers’ defense. In just one season, the unit displayed improvement in both scoring and total defense, allowing over three fewer points and more than 50 yards less compared to the 2021 season. They also ranked 10th in the nation for interceptions.
Barnes’ defensive acumen may stem from his experiences coaching against formidable defensive units, which have now become his hallmark. While his coaching origins lie on the offensive side of the ball, with his career starting as the running back coach at Delaware Valley, he later served as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for West Virginia Wesleyan.
However, it is more likely that his exposure to defensive influences at some of the nation’s most prestigious football programs contributed to his defensive expertise. In 2012, Barnes transitioned to focus on defense and special teams during his time at Florida. He then gained experience at various Big Ten teams before his final stop at Ohio State, where he obtained College Football Playoff experience. His detailed résumé can be found below.
- Delaware Valley (RB coach, 2009)
- West Virginia Wesleyan (RB coach, 2010; OC and QB coach, 2011)
- Florida (defensive and special teams graduate assistant (2012-2014)
- Michigan (defensive analyst, 2015)
- Maryland (special teams coordinator, 2016-2017; ST coordinator and LB coach, 2018)
- Ohio State (ST coordinator and DB assistant, 2019-2020; DB coach, 2021)
- Memphis (DC, 2022-2023)
Special Teams Coordinator, Chris White
Chris White is a new addition to the Memphis coaching staff for the 2023 college football season as he takes on the role of special teams coordinator. In the previous year, his kicker at Buffalo was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. White brings Power Five experience, having served as the special teams coordinator at Syracuse and Iowa, and he also has five years of coaching experience in the NFL.
Defensive Backs Coach, Charles Clark
Charles Clark had an impactful career as a defensive player at Ole Miss. He has since coached the secondary at San Jose State, Oregon, and his alma mater before joining the Memphis coaching staff in 2020. During his tenure with the Tigers, Clark has played a significant role in helping Quindell Johnson earn multiple all-conference recognitions, while also contributing to the team’s success as one of the top-10 teams in interceptions.
Running Back Coach, Sean Dawkins
Sean Dawkins became part of the Memphis coaching staff in 2022 after establishing an impressive ground game offense at Charlotte in the CUSA. Under Dawkins’ guidance, multiple players from the Charlotte 49ers received conference accolades.
MORE: AAC RB Rankings 2023
Dawkins, a former college running back himself, played a role in Troy winning Sun Belt titles in 2006 and 2007 before transitioning to coaching at his alma mater.
Linebacker Coach, Jordon Hankins
Jordon Hankins, a former linebacker for UT-Martin in the early 2000s, has dedicated the longest part of his coaching career to his alma mater. He served as the defensive coordinator for three seasons there. In 2021, Hankins joined the Memphis coaching staff as the linebackers coach and assistant special teams coordinator. Since then, he has played a crucial role in mentoring JJ Russell and Zay Cullens, both of whom have earned first-team All-AAC honors.
Offensive Line Coach, Jeff Myers
Jeff Myers is another new addition to the Memphis coaching staff for the 2023 college football season and brings a track record of fostering offensive line success. He joins the Tigers after establishing a culture of excellence at Iowa State, where his offensive line unit in 2020 was recognized as a semi-finalist for the Joe Moore Award. Myers began his coaching career at his alma mater, Toledo, following a notable five-year playing career during which he earned all-MAC honors twice.
Defensive Line Coach, Kyle Pope
Kyle Pope, who honed his coaching skills as a defensive line assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama, has swiftly ascended in the coaching ranks. Following his time at Jacksonville State, Pope served as the linebackers coach at Liberty in the 2019 season. He then joined the Memphis coaching staff as the defensive line coach. Pope’s success has now earned him additional responsibilities as the defensive run game coordinator for the upcoming 2023 season.
Tight End Coach, Brad Salem
A former QB/WR at Northern Arizona and Augustana from 1988-1992, Brad Salem has been practicing witchcraft in the Memphis TE room since being elevated to the positional coach in 2021. Under his stewardship, Sean Dykes and Caden Prieskorn have both earned all-AAC honors, while he coached Le’Veon Bell, Brian Lewerke, and Connor Cook at Michigan State.
Wide Receiver Coach, Larry Smith
Larry Smith joins the Memphis coaching staff for the 2023 college football season following a successful seven-year tenure as the wide receiver coach at UAB. Under Smith’s guidance, Trea Shropshire earned the nickname “Big Play Trae,” primarily coined by myself. Additionally, in 2019, Austin Watkins Jr became only the third player in Blazers history to accumulate 1,000 receiving yards.