Hutzler tabbed as defensive coordinator as Lebby puts together staff at Mississippi State

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Following the recent hiring of Jeff Lebby to lead the Mississippi State football program, the former Oklahoma offensive coordinator is slowly but surely putting together his full-time staff with announcements coming over the past few days. Below is a rundown of everyone who has been hired so far.

Coleman Hutzler – Defensive Coordinator

While this one has not been officially announced by the university as of Wednesday around lunchtime, Hutzler is fully expected to become the Bulldogs’ next defensive coordinator. First reported by Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger, Mississippi State is working to finalize a deal with the seasoned SEC assistant.

Hutzler spent the last two seasons as the outside linebackers and special teams coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama. Other SEC stops include Florida, South Carolina, and Ole Miss. Lebby and Hutzler first connected while in Oxford when Lebby was offensive coordinator from 2020-21 and Hutzler was special teams coordinator in 2021.

Anthony Tucker – Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs

Tucker has been chosen as Lebby’s right-hand man who will also oversee the running backs’ room. Tucker has been a college coach for 14 seasons, including two seasons with Lebby at UCF. He most recently served as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Indiana. Like many on this list, he also has a history of winning. In 14 seasons, he’s been a part of four conference championships and nine bowl games. Other stops include Utah State, Arkansas State, Idaho State, and Colorado.

Cody Kennedy – Offensive Line

Kennedy comes to Starkville after three seasons as the offensive line coach at Arkansas. In 2021, his guidance of one of the best front-fives in the SEC led to him being named a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top offensive line coach. In 2022, the Razorbacks’ line continued to lead the charge for one of the best offenses in school history. Prior to Arkansas, he coached with Will Hall at both Southern Miss and Tulane.

Jon Cooper – Tight Ends

After one year coaching the offensive line at North Texas, Cooper is jumping over to the SEC to reconnect with Lebby, who he coached with at both UCF and Oklahoma. At both stops, Cooper helped build the high-powered offense that ultimately led to Lebby’s hiring at Mississippi State. He also has coached at Arkansas, Missouri, and Utah State.

Matt Holecek – Quarterbacks

Another Oklahoma coach choosing to leave Norman for Starkville, Holecek spent the last two seasons coaching quarterbacks at Oklahoma after serving in the same capacity at Ole Miss for the two years prior. Before that, he worked as an offensive assistant at Missouri. With developing quarterbacks such as Drew Lock, Matt Corral, and most recently Dillon Gabriel, State fans are hoping this addition will help bring in a big-time transfer to play behind center. Who knows? Maybe Gabriel will head east to get another year with Lebby and Holecek.

Chad Bumphis – Wide Receivers

A fan favorite, a lot of Bulldogs would not have been happy if Bumphis wasn’t retained by the new head coach. Bumphis, who set records as a player in Starkville, is still looking to do the same as a coach at his alma mater. He returned to Mississippi State as a wide receivers coach under former head coach Zach Arnett after a two-year stint at Utah that included two Pac-12 championships and two Rose Bowl appearances.

David Turner – Defensive Line

One of the masterminds behind what some people call “D-Line U,” Turner knows how to develop defensive linemen. With over 20 years in the SEC, including seven at Mississippi State, Turner will be in the second year of his third stint in Starkville. Notable defensive linemen who have learned under him include Chris Jones, Fletcher Cox, Jeffery Simmons, Preston Smith, and Pernell McPhee. During his time at Texas A&M from 2016-17, he tutored eventual No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett. Other stops on his resume include Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and UTSA.

D.A.W.G. program

Lebby has also found a way to incorporate some additional familiar faces with the creation of the D.A.W.G. (Developing A Winning Gameplan) program. Greg Knox, Jason Washington, and Gerri Green will each serve different positions within the “revamped player development system,” as the university is calling it.

Knox, who most recently served as interim head coach after Arnett’s firing, will work as director of career and professional development. Washington will be the director of life skills and NFL liaison, while Green will be the director of community engagement and former player liaison. All three have ties with the university whether it being a player or coach.

Remaining questions

While most of the coaching staff is beginning to take form – which was imperative as the transfer portal officially opened on Monday – one big question remains: Who will be offensive coordinator?

As important as naming an offensive coordinator is for teams in transition, it might not be as big a deal for the Bulldogs as Lebby was quick to say that he will be the one calling plays in Starkville. During his introductory press conference, he noted that an OC will more than likely be hired but more so to manage players and position groups.

“I will continue to call [plays]. I think that’s important for me as we get started in this thing, having one voice as we move forward,” Lebby said. “As we’re putting together the staff, I still have the ability to hire an offensive coordinator from a title standpoint to be able to take some of the day-to-day and be able to have total control of the organizational things that go on.”

Other coaching positions that have not been filled but are expected to include linebackers and defensive backs.

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