University of Missouri

Missouri is losing tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley to Texas A&M

Missouri Tigers football coach Barry Odom celebrated MU’s 26-17 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores with tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley in the final seconds on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Columbia on Faurot Field in Memorial Stadium. Mizzou defeated the Commodores, 26-17, for the Tigers’ first SEC win of the season.
Missouri Tigers football coach Barry Odom celebrated MU’s 26-17 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores with tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley in the final seconds on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Columbia on Faurot Field in Memorial Stadium. Mizzou defeated the Commodores, 26-17, for the Tigers’ first SEC win of the season. The Kansas City Star

Barry Odom is losing one of his most important position coaches.

Missouri’s tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley is leaving to take the same position at Texas A&M, a source with knowledge of the move told The Star. The news was first reported by Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com.

Finley will replace Tim Brewster, who left for North Carolina to join recently hired coach Mack Brown’s staff.

A source told The Star that Finley won’t coach in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 and that MU offensive analyst Garrick McGee will help coach tight ends heading into to the game.

A native of Brentwood, Texas, Finley has made Missouri a destination for NFL scouts looking for tight ends since joining Odom’s staff in 2015. Finely got former MU tight end Sean Culkin on NFL team radars in his first season despite Culkin being used more as a blocker than a pass catcher. Culkin is now in his second year with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Blue Springs South graduate and MU senior Kendall Blanton could also get NFL attention this spring, and redshirt sophomore Albert Okweugbunam is considered one of the top tight end prospects in the upcoming draft, should he declare. Okwuegbunam is a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Finley also helped convert Daniel Parker, a Blue Springs graduate, from a heralded defensive end recruit into a tight end this season. Parker has been called a “blocking phenom” by offensive coordinator Derek Dooley and even caught a touchdown against Vanderbilt.

The departure of Finley comes as Missouri and Odom negotiate a contract extension. Odom is the lowest-paid head coach in the Southeastern Conference. He would likely want a raise in his contract and his assistant coach salary pool, in order to keep coaches like Finley from leaving. Finley served as the Tigers’ interim offensive coordinator after Josh Heupel left to become the coach at Central Florida last December. Finley could have joined Heupel’s staff at UCF but elected to remain at Missouri.

At Texas A&M, Finley inherits Aggies junior tight end Jace Sternberger, a all-SEC first-team selection on Monday after a 47-reception season with 804 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Odom has a number of options to fill the void on his coaching staff. He could move current wideouts coach A.J. Ofodile, a former Missouri and NFL tight end, over to his old position and hire a new wideouts coach. Should he do that, he could also move special teams coordinator Andy Hill back to receivers coach. Former Missouri wideout Will Franklin, the Tigers’ coordinator of player development, could also be promoted to receivers coach if Ofodile switches positions.

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Alex Schiffer

Alex Schiffer covers University of Missouri athletics for The Star.

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