UCF Knights Coaching Staff 2023

UCF gets its long-awaited promotion to the Power 5 realm. Here's the 2023 staff guiding them in the Big 12.

Group of Five no more, like the rockets and shuttles they’ve honored on their uniforms in the past, the UCF Knights are launching into a new orbit: the Power Five realm in the Big 12. One look at the 2023 UCF staff, and it’s a crew that’s already familiar with the conference and P5 landscape.

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UCF Coaching Staff, 2023

Head Coach, Gus Malzahn

Malzahn isn’t just entering his third season in Orlando; he’s back in Power 5 territory.

His last taste of P5 football came from 2013-2020 with Auburn, where he went 67-35 overall, including a 38-27 mark against Southeastern Conference competition. He even earned an appearance in the national title game in his first season with the Tigers.

Now, in the move to the Big 12, he’ll aim to get UCF past the nine-win mark it has hit in the last two seasons. His 2022 team, though, knocked off ranked American Athletic Conference (AAC) foes Cincinnati and Cotton Bowl champion Tulane. Known as an offensive guru, Malzahn’s 2022 unit finished second in total offense and rushing in the AAC.

UCF officially becomes the first-ever Florida representative in the Big 12, prompting Malzahn to demand, via The Oklahoman, that UCF now represents what he called “the big four” of the Sunshine State between Florida, Florida State, Miami, and now them.

Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach, Addison Williams

Williams takes on the task of leading the UCF defense in the move to the Big 12.

Last season, his DB unit helped elevate the Knights to third in pass defense efficiency in the AAC while also ranking fifth in red zone defense. He was supported by a veteran group of DBs including Davonte Brown (now a Miami transfer), Corey Thornton, and Brandon Adams, with the latter two set to return this season.

Williams played a role in attracting Clemson cornerback Fred Davis through the transfer portal. Additionally, he secured commitments from top 100 Florida prospect Braeden Marshall at CB, along with nationally-ranked junior college CB Ja’Maric Morris for the 2023 recruiting class.

While he previously worked at Furman and Coastal Carolina, Williams is also familiar with Power 5 football, having worked with Malzahn at Auburn in 2019. He began his coaching career as a student/graduate assistant at South Carolina from 2010 to 2012.

Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, Darin Hinshaw

Hinshaw makes his return to Orlando for the third time, now taking charge of the offense and QB room.

Hinshaw started his coaching career at UCF as a graduate assistant before being promoted to QB coach in 2000. After coaching at Middle Tennessee, Georgia Southern, Memphis, Tennessee, Cincinnati, and Kentucky, he briefly returned to Orlando in 2021 as an offensive analyst.

In 2022, he led the Alabama-Birmingham offense to new school records in total yards (5,697) and rushing yards (3,063), and produced the nation’s second-leading rusher, DeWayne McBride, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings.

UCF fans can expect to see more Wildcat formations under Hinshaw’s guidance, a strategy he employed with NFL WR Lynn Bowden during his time as co-offensive coordinator at UK. He will be working with dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who accounted for 25 touchdowns, including 11 rushing, in 2022.

Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach, Brian Blackmon

Blackmon shares Auburn ties with Malzahn but has been with UCF since 2021 when the head coach was hired. His coaching helped long snapper Alex Ward emerge as a finalist for the Patrick Mannelly Award, given to the nation’s best long snapper. Blackmon has depth and experience in the tight end room this fall, with a total of eight players, including only two freshmen.

Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach, Herb Hand

Continuing the theme of Knights returning to the Big 12, former Texas Longhorn offensive line coach Hand is back in the conference. During his time in the AAC, his offensive line unit received All-Conference honors for all five players over the past two seasons. Before joining UCF, he spent 2018-2020 in Austin under Tom Herman.

Running Backs Coach, Kam Martin

Martin, like his offensive coordinator, is another coach returning to Orlando after a brief year-long absence. In 2021, he worked as an offensive assistant and in the recruiting department before heading to Incarnate Word. At UIW, the team shattered the school’s rushing record with 3,011 yards and produced one of the FCS’s top-scoring offenses.

Martin was initially set to coach at Texas State but was lured in by Malzahn on March 1. He has a very experienced backfield with no freshmen or transfer portal additions in the 2023 roster.

Wide Receivers Coach, Grant Heard

Heard made an immediate impact on the UCF wide receivers in his first season last year. His trio of Ryan O’Keefe, Javon Baker, and Kobe Hudson combined to score 17 touchdowns. Previously, Heard coached at Indiana from 2017-2021 and worked with Laquon Treadwell and the Ole Miss wide receivers from 2012-2016.

Defensive Ends Coach, Kenny Ingram

Ingram is entering his third season at UCF. Last year, he coached first-team All-AAC edge Tre’Mon Morris-Bash, who recorded 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. Ingram has also proven to be a successful recruiter, securing 2023 four-star defensive end Isaiah Nixon of Lakewood High in Saint Petersburg, who was pursued by Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. He also played a role in landing four-star prospect Andrew Harris of Lake Brantley in Altamonte Springs.

Defensive Tackles Coach, Kenny Martin

Orlando native Kenny Martin played a key role in solidifying the UCF defense on the interior. He coached Ricky Barber, who earned All-AAC honors with 48 tackles and three sacks for a total of 22 yards lost. Anthony Montalvo also received conference recognition for his 42 tackles, including 22 solo tackles. Martin briefly coached San Francisco 49ers interior defensive lineman Kalia Davis in 2021 before Davis suffered an ACL tear.

Linebackers Coach, Ernie Sims

Ernie Sims, a former first-round linebacker for the Detroit Lions and star player at Florida State, is one of the new additions to the 2023 coaching staff. Sims officially joined UCF on Christmas Eve 2022, coming from the University of South Florida, where he coached the Bulls’ linebacker unit. He recently mentored NFL undrafted free agent Dwayne Boyles, who earned a rookie minicamp tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the Vegas Vipers of the XFL.

Co-Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach, David Gibbs

Gibbs works closely with Addison Williams to shape the stout UCF defense. With nearly 30 years of coaching experience, including stints in the NFL with Denver, Kansas City, and Houston, Gibbs brings his expertise to the Knights. UCF’s pass defense thrived under his guidance, and the team held opponents to 20 points or less in seven games last season. This will be Gibbs’ second experience in the Big 12 within the last decade, as he previously served as the defensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2015 to 2018.

The rest of the UCF staff are:

  • Senior Offensive Analyst, Will Healy
  • Special Teams Analyst, Ben Larson
  • Defensive Analyst, Charles Moore
  • Offensive Analyst, Brendan Bognar
  • Offensive Grad Assistant, Jay Carter
  • Offensive Grad Assistant, Jackson Holladay
  • Defensive Grad Assistant, Eugene Fuller
  • Defensive Grad Assistant, Michael Monsah
  • Recruiting/Offensive Assistant, Nate Craig-Myers
  • Director of Sports Performance, Chris Dawson
  • Assistant Dir. of Sports Performance, Andrew Shirek Espinoza
  • Assistant Dir. of Sports Performance, Corey Meredith
  • Assistant Dir. of Sports Performance, Sean Beckton Jr.
  • Director of Player Development, Deshon Lawrence
  • Director of Player Personnel, Cory Giddings
  • Assistant Dir. of Personnel, Clayton Geathers
  • Assistant Dir. of Player Personnel, Alex Mathis
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