Kansas football coach David Beaty officially announced the hire of six new staff members Tuesday, including the addition of new offensive coordinator Rob Likens, a former receivers coach at Cal. Another name, meanwhile, surfaced as a likely staff addition on late Tuesday.
All additions were expected and were previously reported by The Star in recent weeks. But they are now official.
In addition to Likens, Beaty announced that former Kansas assistant coach Je’Ney Jackson will serve as the head strength and conditioning coach, while former KU linebacker and Northern Illinois assistant Kevin Kane will coach linebackers. Beaty also added former Tulsa assistant Calvin Thibodeaux as the defensive line coach and former Vikings staffer Klint Kubiak as receivers coach. As expected, former Olathe North head coach Gene Wier will also fill the off-field post of director of high school relations.
And while his hiring wasn’t officially announced on Tuesday, all signs point to Cal offensive-line coach Zach Yenser taking the same position at Kansas. Yenser spent the last two seasons as the offensive-line coach at Cal after spending three seasons on the staff at Louisiana Tech.
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“As I’ve said before, it’s really important for us to find the right people for this program,” Beaty said in a release. “These six guys, they not only can teach, they can recruit and they can develop relationships and produce productive citizens off the field. We are excited to have all of them onboard.”
Beaty had previously announced that former interim coach Clint Bowen would be retained as defensive coordinator, while running-backs coach Reggie Mitchell is also returning to the staff. Louie Matsakis, who also worked at Kansas under Mark Mangino and Charlie Weis, will serve an off-field role as director or personnel.
For now, with the expected addition of Yenser, Beaty has room to hire two more full-time assistant coaches. Kansas has yet to announce assistants for defensive backs or tight ends.
Likens’ name had surfaced as a possible offensive-coordinator candidate earlier this week. He comes to Kansas after spending two seasons on the coaching staff at Cal, where head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin ran a version of the up-tempo Air Raid spread offense. Beaty, who spent the previous three seasons as the receivers coach at Texas A&M, was in a similar offensive system under Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin.
“Rob has been a major player in some of the best offenses in the history of college football,” Beaty said. “I have always been a fan of Rob’s ability to develop players who produce at a high level. Rob has learned from some of the best in the country and is as fine of an offensive mind as I have been around.”
When Beaty was announced as Kansas’ head coach in early December, he said his most important hire would be finding the right strength and conditioning coordinator. He reiterated that stance on Tuesday in announcing the hire of Jackson, who spent the previous four-plus years working in a similar role with the Indiana basketball program.
“His ability to develop and relate to our players will be a large part of our initiative moving forward,” Beaty said. “He is widely regarded as one of the top coordinators in this field. He is without a doubt, my most important hire and we are honored to have him here.”
In hiring Kane, who played linebacker at Kansas during 2002-05, Beaty referenced his ability to recruit and his connections in the Kansas City area. Kane is a graduate of Rockhurst High School.
Thibodeaux, meanwhile, is a former Oklahoma defensive lineman who has connections in his native Houston and spent time playing and coaching in Oklahoma. Beaty was also familiar with Kubiak, the son of former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, from his time as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M.
Finally, Beaty said the addition of Wier, a former Olathe North coach, will help in recruiting and creating connections throughout the state of Kansas.
“Not only is he fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a Jayhawk, but he will certainly add a much-needed element to our staff,” Beaty said. “His longstanding relationships with the great coaches of the state will allow us to better understand and serve our coaches.”