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Tracking every coaching hire under Jeff Lebby at Mississippi State

Jeff Lebby MSU
Jeff Lebby was named the head football coach at Mississippi State on Nov. 26 (Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics)

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 – Co-Defensive Coordinator

Officially announced by the university on Friday but first reported by Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger on Wednesday, Hutzler has been hired to become the Bulldogs’ next defensive coordinator. The seasoned SEC assistant spent the last two seasons as the outside linebackers and special teams coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama. Other in-conference 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.

Matt Barnes – Co-Defensive Coordinator

Joining Hutzler in managing the defense will be Barnes, who has spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Memphis. Before his time with the Tigers, Barnes served in various positions on staff at Ohio State from 2019-21, helping the Buckeyes to three Big Ten Titles and two College Football Playoff berths. This past season, the Tigers were one of the best in the country on third and fourth down, which helped lead to the team’s second consecutive bowl appearance. Other stops for Barnes include Maryland and Michigan. He will also coach safeties at Mississippi State, according to the university’s announcement.

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.

Corey Bell Cornerbacks

Bell, who is well-known among defensive back coaches across the nation, comes to Starkville after serving as defensive passing game coordinator at Florida Atlantic. Previous stops include Florida, Miami, and Central Florida. Another coach who overlapped with Lebby at UCF, Bell helped lead one of the best pass defenses in the nation en route to multiple conference championships.

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

With nine assistants announced so far, Mississippi State has one remaining spot on staff and how they will use it is unknown at this time.

Outside linebackers and special teams are still areas that look blank on paper. However, a handful of coaches who have already been hired do have experience coaching those groups. Another big question is offensive coordinator. While Lebby was quick to tell fans that he will be the one calling the plays, he did not rule out bringing in an OC 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.”

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