Rice Owls Coaching Staff 2023

The Owls enter the AAC in 2023 with Mike Bloomgren at the helm for his sixth season but the Rice coaching staff features multiple new additions.

After leading the team to their best record since 2015 and their first bowl game appearance since 2014, Mike Bloomgren returns as the Rice Owls’ head coach for the 2023 college football season. As the program looks to continue on an upward trajectory under Bloomgren, the Rice coaching staff has been bolstered by four new additions ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Rice Owls Coaching Staff 2023

Head Coach, Mike Bloomgren

The 2023 college football season marks the sixth season of Bloomgren’s tenure as the head coach of the Owls. The 19th leader of the Rice football program will guide the team into the AAC this year after 18 campaigns in Conference USA. He does so, having established a theme of consistent growth at the school while ensuring a national rather than a local presence on the roster.

After taking over a team that had gone 1-11 in 2017, Bloomgren instantly doubled the win tally during his first season in charge. An offensive innovator during his previous coaching assignments, he has directed an uptick in the Rice offense, taking a team that ranked 125th in scoring offense in 2017 and consistently improving it to be ranked 88th in 2022.

In addition to notable achievements such as a first shutout of a ranked opponent since 1960 and establishing the program as a desirable destination from the transfer portal, Bloomgren’s “Intellectual Brutality” mantra has also yielded classroom results.

Bloomgren’s appointment at Rice was his first head coaching assignment. However, he’s seen success at every stop along the way to Houston.

During a seven-year stint at Stanford, he played a pivotal role in developing the offensive line while overseeing the success of Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey, and an offensive line that was a Joe Moore Award finalist in 2015.

Prior to his success at Stanford, Bloomgren gained NFL experience in several roles with the New York Jets between 2007 and 2010. Having begun his coaching career under Bobby Bowden at FSU in 1997, the Rice head coach has also spent time at Alabama, Catawba College, and was the offensive coordinator at Delta State for two seasons from 2005-2006.

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Offensive Coordinator, Marques Tuiasosopo

Hailing from an illustrious family of footballing talent, Marques Tuiasosopo has parlayed a standout playing career into an impressive coaching résumé, adding Rice to that when he was named the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach ahead of the 2021 college football campaign.

Tuiasosopo joined the Rice coaching staff after a long association with the Pac-12/Pac-10. As a standout quarterback at Washington, he became the first player in NCAA history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for 200 yards — just one of the accomplishments in a playing career that saw him lead the Huskies to a Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl win as a senior in 2000.

A second-round draft pick in 2001, he spent eight years in the NFL before returning to Washington to begin his coaching career. In addition to coaching QBs like Josh Rosen to collegiate success, Tuiasosopo earned national acclaim for his recruiting acumen. He added Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year to his coaching résumé — full details of which are below — in 2015.

  • Washington (assistant strength and conditioning coach, 2009-2010)
  • UCLA (graduate assistant, 2011; TE coach, 2012)
  • Washington (QB coach and interim HC, 2013)
  • USC (TE coach and associate head coach, 2014-2015)
  • UCLA (QB coach, 2016)
  • California (QB coach, 2017-2018; TE coach, 2019-2020)
  • Rice (OC and QB coach, 2021-2023)

Defensive Coordinator, Brian Smith

Brian Smith enters his fifth season as the Rice defensive coordinator, having arrived in Houston for the second season of Bloomgren’s tenure as head coach. Originally taking on the responsibility of coaching safeties, he has spent the last two seasons working with the program’s linebackers but will return to the defensive backfield for the 2023 college football season.

Under Smith, the Rice defense has twice finished in the national top 50 for points allowed. Meanwhile, the 2020 unit, which played just five games in the pandemic-disrupted campaign, had its best season for total defense since 1999 — a testament to his ability to be a stabilizing force in troubled waters.

Another member of the Rice coaching staff with NFL experience, Smith spent the 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles as the assistant linebacker coach and was on the New York Jets staff for seven seasons, finishing his time there working with the secondary.

A three-year starter in the secondary at UMass, Smith opened his college football résumé with the Minutemen as an outside linebacker coach before gaining offensive experience with the program’s wide receivers. Following his NFL sojourn, Smith spent two seasons working with the widely acclaimed Michigan secondary, where he coached multiple all-conference honorees.

Special Teams Coordinator, Pete Alamar

The first new addition to the Rice coaching staff for the 2023 college football season, Pete Alamar becomes the Owls’ special teams coordinator. During his decade at Stanford, Alamar has established himself as one of the best in the business, helping develop Lou Groza finalist Joshua Karty in 2022.

Alamar previously worked with Bloomgren at Stanford, leading to a glowing reference from his new head coach. “When I was with him at Stanford, we were elite in special teams,” Bloomgren said via the official media release announcing the new hire. “I know how he’s going to help each of these guys.”

Defensive Line Coach, Cedric Calhoun

Having gained NFL experience with the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles early in his career, Cedric Calhoun has become an impressive developer of collegiate defensive line talent.

His résumé includes multiple NFL Draft selections, most notably Robert Mathis. Calhoun joined the Rice coaching staff from Vanderbilt in 2018 and has coached at FIU, Alabama A&M, Dartmouth, Morehouse, having begun his career at Idaho State in 1997.

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Offensive Line Coach, Sanders Davis

A relative newcomer to the college coaching scheme, Sanders Davis arrived at Rice in 2019 as an offensive graduate assistant. He quickly established himself and was promoted to offensive line coach in 2020.

While his college experience is limited to the Owls, Davis won a pair of state titles as the run game coordinator and OL coach at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. A multi-tasking talent, he was also the head soccer coach, strength coach, and taught English at his high school alma mater following his playing career at Dartmouth.

Linebacker Coach, Jon Kay

The second newcomer to the Rice coaching staff for 2023, Jon Kay will coach the program’s linebackers following Coach Smith’s transition to safety coach. This is his first college coaching role. However, Kay has an incredible record of success in Houston high school football, leading Galena Park North Shore to four state titles, including their first taste of championship success in 2003.

Wide Receiver Coach, Mike Kershaw

After taking a coaching sabbatical to set up his own insurance business, Mike Kershaw was one of the original members of the Rice coaching staff under Bloomgren. He arrived in Houston as an offensive assistant but was promoted to wide receiver coach in 2019. A former quarterback at Delta State, Kershaw was on staff with Bloomgren there as a QB, WR, and safety coach.

Cornerback Coach, Jeremy Modkins

The third new addition to the Rice coaching staff for the 2023 season, Jeremy Modkins will coach the Owls’ cornerbacks, utilizing his experience as an all-conference playmaker in the secondary. A TCU alum who was the team’s 2005 Defensive MVP, he coached cornerbacks in Fort Worth from 2018 to 2021 before spending one season in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings.

Tight End Coach, Lucas Reed

A three-time starting quarterback at Ouachita Baptist, Lucas Reed joined the Rice coaching staff in 2018 as an offensive graduate assistant coach. Although it was his first college role, Reed has quickly worked his way up through the ranks, working with the team’s quarterbacks for the past two seasons before being promoted to tight ends coach for the 2023 campaign.

Running Back Coach, John Settle

Who better to bring in as the running back coach for the 2023 college football season than the man who engineered a two-time Doak Walker Award winner?

John Settle was the running back coach at Wisconsin when Jonathan Taylor was terrorizing college defenses and joins the Rice coaching staff from Kentucky, where he mentored Christopher Rodriguez to over 2,000 rushing yards in the last two seasons. A standout college athlete himself, Settle still ranks third all-time in Appalachian State career rushing yards.